Sinclair Broadcasting: A Menace to Press Freedom
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
The extremist right-wing media giant aims to get bigger, seeking to swallow Tribune Media, operating 42 broadcast stations.
A merger if consummated will let Sinclair control over 200 local TV stations nationwide, reaching more than 70% of the country – far too much power in the hands of a single company, using it irresponsibly, journalism the way it should be banned on its airwaves.
Earlier, Free Press.net CEO Craig Aaron slammed the broadcaster, saying it “forces its local stations to air pro-Trump propaganda and then seeks favors from the Trump administration worth billions.”
Its sought merger with Tribune Media “should be a national scandal. And if it’s allowed to happen, it will unleash a new and unprecedented wave of consolidation in local TV that may boost short-term stock prices but will spell long-term disaster for local communities.”
In its filing with the FCC, it failed to demonstrate any benefit from the proposed merger. It controls local stations’ content with an iron fist, featuring extremist right-wing material – the public ill-served by this company’s existence.
Instead of allowing its proposed merger, it should be broken up into multiple, small local operations, free to go their own way.
Sinclair is a propaganda machine, opposed to media freedom, solely seeking to profit through greater size and ability to control the message, serving its interests, not the public.
Current FCC rules require broadcasters to own stations not reaching more than 39% of America’s TV audience.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai circumvented the rule through a so-called UHF discount loophole, letting broadcasters count some owned stations for only half the audience they reach.
Sinclair’s proposed merger with Tribune Media way exceeds the national cap if completed. It intends circumventing it through shell companies – pretending to divest from stations in New York, Chicago, San Diego, and perhaps elsewhere, cutting service agreements with third parties, letting the company retain control over stations involved, its scheme for greater consolidation.
Even if it legitimately sold stations in these three major markets, it would still way exceed the national cap.
It’s involved in other shady schemes to get its way. Pai promotes media consolidation. Given Sinclair’s ties to the Trump administration, its merger with Tribune Media may be approved no matter how outrageous, fundamentally against the public interest.
A disturbing video surfaced showing so-called news anchors from scores of its stations forced to air identically scripted statements condemning fake news stories – what comedian John Oliver called “injecting Fox-worthy content into the mouths of local news anchors.”
Former Sinclair news director Aaron Weiss said “I worked for multiple corporate owners, large and small…Only Sinclair forces…local journalists to (go along with) shoddy reporting and commentary that, if it ran in other countries, we would rightly dismiss it as state propaganda.”
The script aired on scores of Sinclair stations word-for-word says “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 dangerous to a democracy. We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual…We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.”
Democracy in America is pure fantasy. Sinclair commits egregious abuses it blamed other media for.
Cable, broadcast and print media scoundrels report the official narrative – disinformation substituting for truth-telling on vital issues, banished from their airwaves and publications.
The more consolidated these media giants get, the worse their reporting becomes – journalism the way it should be available only through reliable alternative sources, no others!
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”