Sinclair Broadcasting Joins Tax Cut Bonus Bandwagon

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2004, file photo, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.'s headquarters stands in Hunt Valley, Md. Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the nation's largest local TV station operators, announced Monday, May 8, 2017, that it will pay about $3.9 billion for Tribune Media, adding more than …
AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File

Sinclair Broadcasting Group, America’s largest television station owner, announced Friday that they will join a slew of other large U.S. companies in using the savings from the just-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to give employees bonuses.

Almost 9,000 Sinclair employees will get $1000 bonuses, according to an accompanying press release.

“We are grateful to our President and legislature for passing the landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and are excited about the benefits it will provide for our country’s economy, our Company, and our employees,” Sinclair Broadcasting President and CEO Chris Ripley said in the press release. “We recognize that our employees are our most valuable resource, truly appreciate their combined achievements for our Company and look forward to a very bright future.”

Sinclair has become something of a bogeyman to the left-leaning press over reports some of its owners and managers are supporters of President Donald Trump and are choosing to broadcast content not sufficiently critical of the administration. New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, for example, has sounded the alarm this summer that “Sinclair really wants to build the future of a conservative media empire” as they entered talks with ousted conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly.

Sinclair television stations are mainly local affiliates of national networks, including 30 Fox and 20 CBS markets, and own several cable networks like the Tennis Channel. The company also holds significant share of the broadcast radio market. An ongoing bid for Tribune Media could further expand this empire.

The tax cuts bonus announcement comes a day after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) levied over $13 million in fines for Sinclair’s failure to disclose that certain segments were paid content from the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. The content was produced by Sinclair’s affiliate in Salt Lake City and presented nationwide in a manner the FCC found might mislead viewers into thinking the 30-minute segments were regular news programming.

The company disputes the fine and will be challenging the FCC to have it reduced or canceled. In a statement, the broadcaster put its case as follows:

Sinclair proudly supports the Cancer Foundation and its educational mission. Any absence of sponsorship identification in these public service segments was unintended and a result of simple human error.  After working to reach a reasonable settlement, we are disappointed by this NAL, which we believe is unreasonable, given the circumstances of our case and the absence of any viewer harm. We disagree with the FCC’s action and intend to contest this unwarranted fine.

The decision to grant bonuses with money freed up in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is part of a growing trend in corporate America. Bank of America, Boeing, Fifth Third Bank, Comcast, AT&T, Wells Fargo, and other companies all announced bonuses or other major investments in American workers in the immediate aftermath of the bill’s passage.

Democrats, who attacked the tax cut plan as a carve-out for corporations and the rich, remain dismissive of these announcements. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), for example, called the bonuses “plain-old politics.”


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