losangelesnewstoday.com
losangelesnewstoday.com April 26, 2018


Sinclair's 'hostage videos' a reminder of need for a free press

04 April 2018, 01:14 | Katrina Lee

Sinclair Broadcast Group owns over 200 local news stations across the United States including WGNImage Getty Images

Sinclair Broadcast Group owns over 200 local news stations across the United States including WGN

President Donald Trump went to Sinclair's defense Monday, posting on Twitter that the company's stations, which often run commentary that is favorable to his administration, are more reliable news sources than CNN or NBC. With 193 television stations across the U.S., Sinclair is the country's largest broadcaster, and if it has its druthers it'll soon be the proud owner of Tribune Media, which will bring 40 more stations into the fold.

Sinclair earlier this year initiated a policy of having anchors at its 170-plus TV stations around the country read the same warning about bias in news and false reports being "extremely unsafe to our democracy".

(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control "exactly what people think".This is extremely risky to a democracy.

The Democratic lawmakers also noted that Trump reportedly discussed potential FCC rule changes in a meeting with Sinclair's executive chairman and said that Pai or his staff "have met with Sinclair representatives on numerous occasions".

The video compiled by the website Deadspin presents local anchors reciting from the same script, which in part echoes President Trump's criticism of news organizations.

Media critics and some Sinclair employees have faulted the use of news personalities to parrot Trump's criticism of the news media.

Trump tweeted Monday that it was amusing to watch "Fake News Networks" criticizing Sinclair for being biased.

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Fox 47's comments were in direct response to recent fallout over a script for a "must-run" segment that was sent to all Sinclair-owned stations last month, which claimed "false news" from competing outlets posed a danger to democracy. The president singled out CNN and NBC. The message calls out supposed bias and false messages in news stories spread on social media and in various unnamed news outlets. Except for their own programming, the networks do not control the content that appears on Sinclair-owned affiliates.

Sinclair owns almost 200 stations, including KBOI in Boise, KLEW in Lewiston and KIDK in Idaho Falls.

Deadspin received a hat tip from HBO's John Oliver, whose "Last Week Tonight" did a lengthy story on Sinclair last season. And the company is looking to expand its influence into more markets with a $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune Media.

"In critiquing "fake news" the stations are implying that they're real news, so it's ironic that they're actually reading from a script they were given", he said.

By echoing Trump's own rhetoric about "fake news" and by suggesting they are "fairer" than their competitors, Sinclair is hoping to curry favor with regulators while getting a marketing edge with Republican strategists, Socolow said. "Nothing says "we value independent media" like dozens of reporters forced to repeat the same message over and over again, like members of a brainwashed cult", Oliver said. If completed, the merger would give Sinclair direct access to about 70 percent of the TV households in the nation, by far the most by one company. The deal requires the blessing of the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice, both of which are dominated by Trump loyalists.

If Sinclair can come down like a ton of bricks on a former Washington bureau chief, just imagine what they're able to do to a local anchor.

"Sinclair proposed the merger after the FCC voted 3 to 2 in April of a year ago to reintroduce a policy on how broadcasters" total percentage of the national market is calculated, making it easier for companies to expand.



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