Last year, Joe Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had been the subject of controversy centered on her dispute with some top major broadcasters the FCC is directly responsible for regulating. Reporting this week reveals that Locast, the now-defunct nonprofit organization created and managed by Sohn, agreed to a favorable legal settlement just one day after Biden nominated Sohn.
The settlement had Locast paying a group of broadcasters including ABC, CBS, and Fox $700,000 and reduced Sohn’s financial liability by over $30 million. The settlement payment followed an original award due to illegal streaming of network programming as one of Locast’s three director’s Sohn, executed the settlement agreement one day after the public announcement of her FCC nomination.
During a confirmation hearing before a Senate committee last month, Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) brought up the lawsuit and order against Locast. Blunt asked Sohn if the controversy would affect her handling of regulating the “very same broadcasters” that sued her organization.
Wicker called last week for further committee confirmation hearings regarding Sohn’s nomination, partly because of the timing of the now-revealed settlement of the case against her nonprofit. He said that Sohn’s possible “future financial liability” to companies regulated by the FCC demands a complete discussion in a new hearing.
American Commitment President Phil Kerpen told the Washington Free Beacon this week that the settlement brings up multiple new ethics questions about Sohn’s nomination. He questioned how the settlement eliminates rather than increases criticism, given the “incredibly favorable” conditions. Kerpen asked how any objective person could say Sohn could fairly vote on any matter involving the networks that “just basically let her company off the hook.”
In addition to her involvement with Locast, Republican senators have questioned Sohn’s progressive activism and repeated demands that right-wing news networks be denied FCC licensing over many years. Last month, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said that her advocacy for censorship alone “completely disqualifies” her from serving on the FCC.