1
   

Sinclair Broadcasting Group Poised to Break Election Laws

 
 
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 01:02 pm
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-na-sinclair9oct09,1,4817545.story?coll=la-home-headlines

NEW YORK ? The conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose television outlets reach nearly a quarter of the nation's homes with TV, is ordering its stations to preempt regular programming just days before the Nov. 2 election to air a film that attacks Sen. John F. Kerry's activism against the Vietnam War, network and station executives familiar with the plan said Friday.

Sinclair's programming plan, communicated to executives in recent days and coming in the thick of a close and intense presidential race, is highly unusual even in a political season that has been marked by media controversies.

Sinclair has told its stations ? many of them in political swing states such as Ohio and Florida ? to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," sources said. The film, funded by Pennsylvania veterans and produced by a veteran and former Washington Times reporter, features former POWs accusing Kerry ? a decorated Navy veteran turned war protester ? of worsening their ordeal by prolonging the war. Sinclair will preempt regular prime-time programming from the networks to show the film, which may be classified as news programming, according to TV executives familiar with the plan.

Executives at Sinclair did not return calls seeking comment, but the Kerry campaign accused the company of pressuring its stations to influence the political process.

"It's not the American way for powerful corporations to strong-arm local broadcasters to air lies promoting a political agenda," said David Wade, a spokesman for the Democratic nominee's campaign. "It's beyond yellow journalism; it's a smear bankrolled by Republican money, and I don't think Americans will stand for it."

Sinclair stations are spread throughout the country, in major markets that include Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas; its only California station is in Sacramento. Fourteen of the 62 stations the company either owns or programs are in the key political swing states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where the presidential election is being closely fought.

Station and network sources said they have been told the Sinclair stations ? which include affiliates of Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, as well as WB and UPN ? will be preempting regular programming for one hour between Oct. 21 and Oct. 24, depending on the city. The airing of "Stolen Honor" will be followed by a panel discussion, which Kerry will be asked to join, thus potentially satisfying fairness regulations, the sources said.

Kerry campaign officials said they had been unaware of Sinclair's plans to air the film, and said Kerry had not received an invitation to appear.

No one familiar with the plan was willing to criticize it publicly, some because they said they don't know all the details of what Sinclair plans for the panel that follows. But a number of people privately expressed outrage at the seemingly overt nature of the political attack, which comes during a tight election and at a time when the media are under assault as never before. Cable's Fox News Channel was attacked in the summer by a coalition of liberal groups for what they said were its efforts to boost Republicans; in recent weeks, CBS' Dan Rather has been criticized by conservatives, as well as some nonpartisan journalists, for a "60 Minutes" broadcast that used now-discredited documents in a report saying President Bush received favorable treatment when in the Texas Air National Guard in the 1970s.

Democrats have for some time accused Sinclair, a publicly traded company based in Maryland, of a having a right-wing agenda.

The company made headlines in April when it ordered seven of its stations not to air Ted Koppel's "Nightline" roll call of military dead in Iraq, deeming it a political statement "disguised as news content." Sen. John McCain, the Republican from Arizona who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, was among those who criticized Sinclair's decision not to air the "Nightline" program, which featured the names and pictures of more than 700 U.S. troops.

Even before the "Nightline" controversy, Sinclair drew criticism because of the combination of its highly centralized news operations, which often include conservative commentary, and its almost exclusively Republican political giving. In the 2004 political cycle, Sinclair executives have given nearly $68,000 in political contributions, 97% to Republicans, ranking it 12th among top radio and TV station group contributors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog group.

The upcoming "Stolen Honor" will probably bring fresh attention to Sinclair. "I can't think of a precedent of holding up programming to show a political documentary at a point where it would have the maximum effect on the vote," said Jay Rosen, chairman of New York University's journalism department. But the program will only be the latest in a string of politically charged media events in this campaign. Representatives of Michael Moore's anti-Bush "Fahrenheit 9/11," which has grossed $214 million worldwide, are in talks for a deal to make the film available on pay-per-view cable the night before the election. The Sundance Channel plans to air live clips Monday from the anti-Bush "Vote for Change" rock concert.

Cable, however, doesn't have the reach of broadcast stations like Sinclair's, nor is it subject to the same federal regulations. Still, although broadcast stations are required to provide equal time to major candidates in an election campaign, the Sinclair move may not run afoul of those provisions if Kerry or a representative is offered time to respond. Moreover, several sources said Sinclair had told them it planned to classify the program as news, where the rules don't apply.

Calling it news, however, poses its own problems, said Keith Woods, dean of the faculty at the Poynter Institute, a journalism school in St. Petersburg, Fla., that teaches professional ethics. "To air a documentary intended to provide a one-sided view of Kerry's record and call it news ? it's like calling Michael Moore's movie news," he said, adding that the closer to an election that a controversial news report is aired, the "higher the bar has to go" in terms of fairness.

Clearly, Sinclair's reach will bring a much wider audience to the film. The 42-minute film has only been available on DVD or for $4.99 through an Internet download, although fans had been mounting an Internet campaign to get it wider exposure.

"Stolen Honor" was made by Carlton Sherwood, a Vietnam veteran and former reporter for the conservative Washington Times who is also the author of a book about the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. On the website for the film, he tells viewers, "Intended or not, Lt. Kerry painted a depraved portrait of Vietnam veterans, literally creating the images of those who served in combat as deranged drug-addicted psychopaths, baby killers" that endured for 30 years in the popular culture.

Sherwood did not return calls seeking comment.


Some fun facts on SBG:

http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=63020#1

I wonder...how would neoconservatives react if Michael Moore had his film, Farenheit 9/11, broadcasted on 1/4 of America's televisions via a huge corporate media's myriad affiliates and outlets, and called it news to avoid Federal Election Laws?

Just curious...
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 13,269 • Replies: 289
No top replies

 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 01:14 pm
This was being discussed over on the Bookie thread... I just posted this there, will post a link to your thread there and maybe continue the conversation here (if they want to continue it...)

*****

Just read this.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/11/politics/campaign/11film.html

Major points I see are:

1.) Contrary to timber's take on how few and how unimportant the markets are that will actually see it, this says:

Quote:
Those officials 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.


Major broadcast networks, swing states, prime time. The effect no longer looks so negligible.

2.) This seems to use the it's news no it's an ad no it's news thing yet again:

Quote:
Because Sinclair is defining the documentary - which will run commercial free - as news, it is unclear if it will be required by federal regulations to provide Mr. Kerry's campaign with equal time to respond.

-snip-

"Stolen Honor" was produced by Carlton Sherwood, formerly a reporter with The Washington Times. His Web site says he received no money from any political party or campaign but got initial funding from Pennsylvania veterans.

The documentary has been distributed by mail order and via streaming Internet connections. Mr. Hyman said Sinclair was not paying for the right to broadcast it.


I understand the points being made about owners having a right to slant the news in ways large and small. This, however, seems to be teetering on the edge of outright propaganda -- the same as the Medicare "news" item that already got them in trouble and the education "news" item that I just started a thread on.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 01:24 pm
He'd probably do it if there were a broadcasting company willing to interrupt prime time television to show it.
0 Replies
 
Brand X
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 01:26 pm
The DNC has filed a complaint with the FEC about it.
0 Replies
 
Larry434
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 01:26 pm
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;..."

What a great Constitution we have that protects freedom of the press.
0 Replies
 
DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 01:32 pm
Larry434 wrote:
What a great Constitution we have that protects freedom of the press.


do feel the same way about f/911, larry?
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 01:37 pm
Meanwhile, Michael Moore is negotiating a Pay Per View event for the night before the election. Both are fine with me.

Both will be preaching predominantly to the choir... (I would expect F911 to have a much greater impact, btw, because it's material is far more relevant.)

Did anybody here see "The people Vs. Larry Flint" the other night? If you never have, do so. Idea

Any campaign finance reforms should be agreed to in the off season, not bickered about in the final month before the election.

As a matter of fact, to me it matters little how much I like or dislike the content of either program. I would prefer to go on making up my own mind what I want to see. And I don't feel qualified to make that decision for any of you, either. Idea
0 Replies
 
Larry434
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 01:49 pm
DontTreadOnMe wrote:
Larry434 wrote:
What a great Constitution we have that protects freedom of the press.


do feel the same way about f/911, larry?


But of course. Free speech and freedom of the press is for everyone, regardless of their political views.

The only ones I hear complaining about it is the Left.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 01:53 pm
'the press' is not the same thing as 'the owners of the station.'

The owners don't have the right to put such a one-sided piece onto public television right before an election like this. There are campaign finance and other campaign laws specifically designed to stop things like this.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Dookiestix
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:01 pm
Then it's o.k., Larry434, if, say, CBS airs Farenheit 9/11 days before the election?
0 Replies
 
Larry434
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:02 pm
Cycloptichorn wrote:
'the press' is not the same thing as 'the owners of the station.'

The owners don't have the right to put such a one-sided piece onto public television right before an election like this. There are campaign finance and other campaign laws specifically designed to stop things like this.

Cycloptichorn


No there are not. There is no campaign law that precludes it.
0 Replies
 
Dookiestix
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:03 pm
OCCOM BILL:

Um, with pay-per-view, don' t you have to PAY first before watching it?

The same cannot be said for network television.
0 Replies
 
Dookiestix
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:06 pm
The McCain Feingold ban states that it's a big no-no to run supposedly non-partisan "issue ads" -- those referring to candidates for federal election without expressly advocating their election or defeat -- in the 60 days leading up to an election.

Pay-per-view is not an ad. It is pay-per-view.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:08 pm
The article also mentions the 'equal time' rules.
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:15 pm
I happen to remember people on this forum calling or even demanding that F9/11 be shown in the month of Oct. Funny how when things get turned around, the libs don't like it so much.

If Michael Moore wants to play his "fakeumentary" then let him, he is doing it for 2 reasons,

1) To influence the election

2) For profit. If he wasn't going to do it for profit, then he could arrange for the PPV people to offer it for free instead of the $4.00 they will charge.
0 Replies
 
Dookiestix
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:18 pm
Quote:
http://www.nationalcenter.org/McCainFeingold.html

(ii) referring to 1 or more clearly identified candidates in a paid advertisement that is broadcast by a radio broadcast station or a television broadcast station within 60 calendar days preceding the date of
an election of the candidate and that appears in the State in which the election is occurring, except that with respect to a candidate for the office of Vice President or President, the time period is within 60 calendar days preceding the date of a general election;

(iii) expressing unmistakable and unambiguous
support for or opposition to 1 or more clearly identified candidates when taken as a whole and with limited reference to external events, such as proximity to an election.
0 Replies
 
DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:25 pm
Larry434 wrote:
DontTreadOnMe wrote:
Larry434 wrote:
What a great Constitution we have that protects freedom of the press.


do feel the same way about f/911, larry?


But of course. Free speech and freedom of the press is for everyone, regardless of their political views.

The only ones I hear complaining about it is the Left.


oh? then who were all of those folks that were hopping up and down and complaining about f/911. "fakeumentary"? threatening to boycott theatres that ran it? along with other terror tactics?
0 Replies
 
Dookiestix
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:27 pm
DontTreadOnMe:

As Larry434 hasn't seen Michael's movie, he has only commented on it based on what everybody else tells him to say.

It's really quite sad...
0 Replies
 
Larry434
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:28 pm
DontTreadOnMe wrote:
Larry434 wrote:
DontTreadOnMe wrote:
Larry434 wrote:
What a great Constitution we have that protects freedom of the press.


do feel the same way about f/911, larry?


But of course. Free speech and freedom of the press is for everyone, regardless of their political views.

The only ones I hear complaining about it is the Left.


oh? then who were all of those folks that were hopping up and down and complaining about f/911. "fakeumentary"? threatening to boycott theatres that ran it? along with other terror tactics?



But to no avail, because it was perfecttly Constitutional, and very good propaganda I might add.
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 02:30 pm
Dookiestix wrote:
The McCain Feingold ban states that it's a big no-no to run supposedly non-partisan "issue ads" -- those referring to candidates for federal election without expressly advocating their election or defeat -- in the 60 days leading up to an election.

Pay-per-view is not an ad. It is pay-per-view.
You completely missed the point of my post in your Hyper-partisan frenzy. <Shrugs>

Btw, most crockumentaries are not considered "Ads" eitherÂ… whether you have to pay for them or not. Idea
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

Obama '08? - Discussion by sozobe
Let's get rid of the Electoral College - Discussion by Robert Gentel
McCain's VP: - Discussion by Cycloptichorn
Food Stamp Turkeys - Discussion by H2O MAN
The 2008 Democrat Convention - Discussion by Lash
McCain is blowing his election chances. - Discussion by McGentrix
Snowdon is a dummy - Discussion by cicerone imposter
TEA PARTY TO AMERICA: NOW WHAT?! - Discussion by farmerman
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Sinclair Broadcasting Group Poised to Break Election Laws
Copyright © 2024 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 07/17/2024 at 10:12:32