Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Time for Sinclair to Reap the Whirlwind

[Counterpoint note: The following is a line-by-line parody/response to the the latest (and particularly hapless) commentary by Mark Hyman.]

Sinclair’s airing of an anti-Kerry propaganda piece days before the election may be the beginning of the end.

Mark Hyman claims the firing of Jon Lieberman from Sinclair Broadcasting last month after he criticized Sinclair’s action was simply a matter of dismissing a “disgruntled employee.” But we all know better.

A number of media conglomerates may be safe for the time being, thanks to a nonexistent FCC, but the same can’t be said for Sinclair Broadcasting. Since their refusal to honor fallen soldiers by preempting an episode of “Nightline” last spring, Sinclair’s stock has been in a free fall. Although it stayed in business, the outrage over the airing of a discredited propaganda piece as “news” has indicated the end is near. Sinclair has been notified that the licenses of several of their stations are being challenged.

These developments underscore the unprecedented grassroots outcry over media consolidation. Michael Powell and the FCC received over a million complaints protesting the plan to allow greater corporate profiteering from the publicly-owned airwaves. Sinclair and companies like them spend more time finding out how many people they can fire from local stations and how to inject right-wing bias into their broadcasts than they do thinking about covering news stories completely and accurately. An examination of Sinclair’s business practices shows an increasing homogenization of their news broadcasts at the expense of journalistic integrity.

Moreover, relying on a single “Newscentral” team to deliver the “local” news to 62 stations around the nation is not a good strategy. Sinclair’s newscasts are failing in their efforts to distinguish broadcasts in one market from another, and their commentaries are failing to distinguish themselves from the worst sorts of right-wing talk radio blather and Internet chat room inanity. The skewed news coverage and bias injected into the evening newscasts is not lost on most viewers. This is one of the reasons why viewers are abandoning the newscasts.

Sinclair will have to look at a different model if they want to stop the slide in ratings, stock price, and advertisers. The days of the Smith family and Mark Hyman hiding their agenda to cheat viewers are over.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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