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The Danger Of Media Consolidation: Sinclair Forces Stations To Pre-Empt Programs For Bush
by media consolidation endagers democracy
Tuesday Oct 12th, 2004 8:12 AM
NEW YORK The 62 television stations owned or managed by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group - many of them in swing states - will show within the next two weeks a documentary highly critical of Senator John Kerry's antiwar activities 30 years ago, Sinclair executives said.
Those executives said the documentary would pre-empt regular night programming, including prime time, on its stations, which include affiliates for all six of the major broadcast networks in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
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The conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group will reportedly present the film as news on the 62 local channels it owns nationwide.

The film will replace normal primetime programmes supplied by the national networks and reach up to a quarter of the electorate, many in critical battleground states, about a week before the election on November 2.

Democrats will file a legal complaint today with the federal election commission arguing the broadcast represents an illegal campaign contribution. Democratic senators have also said they will appeal to the federal communications commission (FCC), to investigate the transmission of what they describe as free political advertising.

The FCC is chaired by Michael Powell, the son of the secretary of state, Colin Powell.

Under US broadcasting rules, the film actually gives airtime to Mr Kerry. Andrew Jay Schwartzman, who heads the Media Access Project watchdog, said: "The way our equal time law works depends on what candidate is appearing on the air - so the equal time rule would run to Bush, not to Kerry. It does not provide Kerry a right to reply."

"What this shows is the dangers of media concentration. These are the problems that arise when one company controls 62 channels.",13918,1325120,00.html

Sinclair executives have given thousands to the Bush campaign, and the company refused to air the April 30 "Nightline" episode in which hundreds of names of American troops killed in Iraq were read by ABC anchor Ted Koppel.

Democratic FCC commissioner Michael Copps called Sinclair's decision "an abuse of the public trust."

"It is proof positive of media consolidation run amok when one owner can use the public airwaves to blanket the country with its political ideology -- whether liberal or conservative," he said. "This is the same corporation that refused to air "Nightline's" reading of our war dead in Iraq. It is the same corporation that short shrifts local communities and local jobs by distance-casting news and weather from hundreds of miles away."

The owner of the largest chain of television stations in the United States has agreed to have its affiliates air a film critical of Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry produced by the conservative 527 group Swift Boat Veterans For Truth less than two weeks before the November 2 presidential election.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose 62 stations cover nearly one-fourth of all American households, has asked its stations to air the 42-minute documentary entitled "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" commercial-free the week of October 21-24.

A cursory look at Sinclair's recent record shows which side the broadcasting company is on. This is the same Sinclair Broadcasting Group who last April cried wolf over an attempt to "influence public opinion" by forbidding its seven ABC affiliates from airing a Nightline special devoted to the soldiers killed in Iraq.

The same Sinclair who gave $66,000 to the Republican Party in 2004.

The same Sinclair who required weather men to read a statement supporting President Bush's war on terror in 2001.

The same Sinclair who prevented a Madison, Wisconsin Fox affiliate from airing an advertisement by the Democratic National Committee last July.
The same Sinclair who today forces local stations against their will to run a daily "commentary" segment by its corporate spokesman which calls the French "cheese eating surrender monkeys," and antiwar Congressman "unpatriotic politicians who hate our military."

You get the picture. Can you imagine the response from the right if CBS pre-empted local programming in late October to show Fahrenheit 9/11?

George W. Bush can't win this election based on ideas. So Karl Rove and his corporate media cronies concoct lies and distortions about Kerry's past. David Brock of Media Matters for America has sent a letter to Sinclair CEO David Smith urging him to scrap its plans. Email Smith (dsmith [at] yourself and sign the petition to be delivered to Sinclair and the FCC on October 15.
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
TV conglomerate committing fraud with ‘documentary’TV conglomerate committing fraudTuesday Oct 12th, 2004 5:52 PM
Sinclair ought to know better - and so should the FCCrepostTuesday Oct 12th, 2004 5:17 PM
FCC Commissioner Echoes DNC's Criticism of Sinclair Broadcasting GroupcnsnewsTuesday Oct 12th, 2004 5:15 PM
Sinclair Broadcasting's Dive Into the Biased AbyssThe Washington DispatchTuesday Oct 12th, 2004 5:14 PM
Don't Boycott Sinclair. Hit Them Where They Are Most Vulnerableo After Ad Sponsors and InvestorsTuesday Oct 12th, 2004 8:15 AM

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