Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group buying dozens of local television stations by acquiring Tribune Media.

Feels like sailing towards being like N. Korea, etc.

Sinclair Broadcast Group Has Deal To Buy Tribune Media's TV Stations

May 8, 20175:21 PM ET
Heard on Morning Edition
David Folkenflik

Sinclair Broadcast Group, based outside Baltimore, announced Monday it had struck a $3.9 billion deal to obtain dozens of local television stations by acquiring Tribune Media.

The move, seen as likely to win approval of federal regulators with only modest concessions, would further propel consolidation in the industry. It would also offer a greater reach for one of the nation's most conservative media companies.

Though little known in major media centers, Sinclair's holdings are vast. It owns or operates more than 170 local television stations; Tribune Media owns 42 television stations in 33 markets, including the nation's top three: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. With its new holdings, Sinclair would hold stations in seven of the biggest 10 markets.


If history is any guide, the Smith brothers who together control Sinclair Broadcast will also pull news coverage on those stations in a more conservative direction and explore giving full rein to those beliefs on a national platform.


Former Sinclair Washington producer Lisa Modarelli later told me that decision hurt her ability to report on politics in the nation's capital. "Our sources didn't trust us anymore, even though we didn't make that decision," Modarelli said after she left the company. "They didn't want to work with us anymore because whatever we did, the story would turn out biased."

Later that year, then Sinclair Washington bureau chief Jon Leiberman openly opposed plans to air an hour-long program in the height of election season attacking Democratic nominee John Kerry for his service record in Vietnam and his anti-war stances afterward. Leiberman, who said in an interview that he had voted for George W. Bush in 2000, told me the show was "biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election." The company fired Leiberman the day after his interview, saying he was a disgruntled employee.

Similar patterns emerged in more recent years.

In 2012, the company paid for robocalls taped by one of Sinclair's Baltimore anchors to be placed to households around Maryland — with questions loaded against the positions of then Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Last fall, according to the Washington Post, Sinclair directed stations to carry certain "must-run" stories that reflected poorly on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Stories on Republican nominee Donald Trump were largely sympathetic or neutral, according to the newspaper.

In December, Politico reported that Jared Kushner had boasted to business executives that the Trump campaign had struck a deal giving access to Sinclair in exchange for more favorable coverage, a claim the chain denied.


Sinclair recently signed former Trump campaign aide Boris Epshteyn as its chief political analyst. To lead its Sunday public affairs show, Sinclair hired former CBS correspondent Sharyl Atkisson, an investigative reporter whose scrutiny of the Obama administration won her the admiration of many conservatives.


Sinclair's plans for acquisition, however, appear likely to sail through. Under its new chairman, Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission has approved new rules relaxing restrictions on how many stations a single company can own.

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