News Ticker

Sinclair: FCC had nothing to do with retrans deal

Sinclair Broadcast Group shot down claims by the Federal Communications Commission that the agency’s intervention was the reason that Dish and Sinclair finally hammered out a new retransmission consent agreement.

In a blunt statement, Sinclair said:

“We understand the temptation for the FCC to take credit for resolving this impasse, but their intervention had nothing to do with it. We were very close to a resolution well before Chairman Wheeler got involved. In fact, the FCC process actually delayed the resolution, because it added more issues to negotiate, which lengthened DISH’s service interruption, not shortened it. And it is important to remember that our stations never went off the air in any of those markets, but were consistently available free of charge to our viewers, as well as through DISH’s competitors.”

The two parties announced late Wednesday an end to a day-long blackout of 129 Sinclair stations in 79 markets on Dish and an agreement “in principle.”

Earlier on Wednesday, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler fired off a press release touting his call for the media bureau to convene an “emergency” meeting between the parties, giving both Dish and Sinclair until midnight to file their views. When the two parties announced an agreement in principle, the FCC came out with a self-congratulatory press release, taking credit for the resolution of the dispute.

“After chairman Wheeler directed the media bureau to convene an emergency meeting…the parties announced today they would extend their retransmission negotiations and end the blackout…,” the FCC release said. Wheeler added that the FCC “will remain vigilant while negotiations continue.”

A number of press reports credited Wheeler with resolving the dispute.

Wheeler’s high profile move to publicly intervene in the Dish-Sinclair retrans dispute was a marked departure from the more quiet, back-door arm twisting usually employed by the commission.

The FCC recently initiated a Congressionally-mandated rule making to review what constitutes “good faith” negotiations. The notice for proposed rule making is required to be circulated before Sept. 4.