Tues 7/10: “This is extremely dangerous to our democracy”, says Sinclair Broadcast Group, the actual danger to our democracy. Deadline to comment, June 12th, Thursday + 2 calls.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Sinclair Broadcasting Group issue, they are the right-wing extremist company that is gobbling up local news stations. They cut a deal with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner during the 2016 elections to air “good” coverage for Trump and it continues to act as his defacto propaganda arm. You may have seen the  success of their takeovers displayed on this viral video.

If Sinclair is allowed to merge with Tribune Media, over 200 news stations will spread  this kind of propaganda to 3 of 4 American households. And yes, the merger will affect us. Sinclair curently owns stations in Bakersfield, Chico, Redding, Eureka, Arcata, Fresno and Visalia in CA. Merging with Tribune Broadcasting would give them 42 more stations, including the big markets they really want – KTLA-5 in Los Angeles, KTXL-Fox40 in Sacramento and KSWB-Fox 5 in San Diego in CA, as well as two national stations, Antenna TV and This TV.

Action #1 –   if you’re ready to go right now.

Write a comment to the FCC to stop this “loophole” merger. They are taking comments through July 12th. If you want more information before you can comment, we have sample scripts and background material below.

2 options – Deadline July 12th:

  • You can comment here through ActionNetwork
  • You can comment directly here. The “Proceeding” number is 17-179. Be sure you have your +4 zip code number, you’ll need to add it to your comment filing.

Sample scripts. 

If you’re having writer’s block, find something here and mix it up to sound like you. More comments for review here.

Comment: I strongly oppose the merger of Sinclair Broadcasting with Tribune Media. Sinclair is already the country’s largest broadcast company, and even with adjustments to its original Tribune buyout plan, it would still own more than 200 stations—far above the legal limit. Most people still rely on local news, and the merger would homogenize and centralize that product to the detriment of the public interest. A strong democracy needs a wide range of news and opinion, not less.

Comment: I urge the FCC to deny the Sinclair-Tribune merger. This merger would create the largest television broadcasting company in history, consolidating the power to decide what information reaches American households into the hands of a powerful few. Sinclair Broadcasting has a long history of laying off news staff and devastating local media by forcing stations to air politically biased segments produced at their corporate headquarters. We must protect jobs and quality journalism that reflects the concerns and interests of the communities served by local news stations. I urge you to reject the Sinclair-Tribune merger. 

Comment:  PDF from Saint Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church here.

Comment: I vehemently oppose the merger of Sinclair and Tribune companies. This would give Sinclair a pathway to a media monopoly in the United states. Our country has always relied on strong, open and divergent journalism/media outlets. With this merger, it would allow Sinclair to control over 70% of media outlets – and Sinclair is known for being a mouth-piece for the conservative perspective, thus limiting our access to varied opinions and perspectives. It is this variety that makes a strong democracy. As other Presidential and Congressional actions are already chipping away at our democracy, let not the FCC continue this trend in the journalism arena. We need good, varied and open journalism in our country. We need a strong Fourth Estate.

Comment: This merger will cause a media monopoly of an unprecedented and dangerous size (75% of US citizens will be given news from one conglomerate). This is a MAJOR threat to this Republic for without freedom of the press that includes diversity in thousands of locally, 100’s of state and 10’s of nationally and internationally owned media outlets (not monopolies) this Democracy is no more. Perhaps that is the plan of this administration – but the public will not stand for this.

Comment: Sinclair is an objectively misleading source of “news” and is clearly attempting to use their significant financial resources to acquire airspace that will influence the most vulnerable viewers into believing their political agenda. It is not balanced or unbiased, and as an organization is taking advantage of a media format that our citizens trust to be impartial and accurate. No media company should have this amount of influence on network broadcasting.

Comment: I urge the FCC to not allow the Sinclair Broadcasting merger with Tribune Media, re: Proceeding 17-179. For starters, we need to wait for the outcome of a pending court decision about how many media outlets a single company can operate. But this merger is unacceptable regardless of that outcome, and would degrade the health of our media ecosystem. Sinclair Broadcasting has demonstrated a reckless disregard for local media independence through its must-run editorial commentary (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWLjYJ4BzvI) and harsh contractual obligations designed to keep its own staff from defecting from a top-down right-wing agenda. We need journalism to provide checks on government overreach and corruption, and Sinclair Broadcasting has demonstrated a gross disregard for that responsibility. Allowing this merger to proceed would further erode our precarious democracy at a time when we desperately need a healthy fourth estate.

Comment: Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune should never be allowed to merge. If this deal goes through, a single company would own more than 200 local-TV stations reaching more than 70 percent of the country. That’s far beyond the legal limits on media ownership and far too much power in the hands of a single company. Sinclair has evaded FCC rules, received FCC fines for airing propaganda, and drawn wide criticism for airing politically slanted content on its stations. The FCC should block this merger and restore policies that encourage a diversity of local media owners and a wide range of viewpoints.

CommentI’ve seen the effects on my local Sinclair station and I urge the FCC to deny the Sinclair-Tribune merger. I am very troubled by stations being forced to run biased “news” segments and the incessant hyping of terrorism around the globe to create fear in viewers. Our media is already controlled by 6 large corporations. This merger would create the largest television broadcasting company in history, consolidating the power to decide what information reaches American households into the hands of a powerful few. That is absolutely unacceptable. Sinclair Broadcasting has a long history of laying off news staff and devastating local media. We must protect jobs and quality journalism that reflects the concerns and interests of the communities served by local news stations.

Action #2: Contact our Attorney General

Ask CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra to join his counterparts in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island who wrote that the merger “will increase market consolidation above the acceptable statutory limit, reduce consumer choices, and threaten the diversity of voices in media.” The Coalition to Save Local Media has already sent Becerra this letter. Now let him hear from you.

Contact:
Email
Postcards: Attorney General’s Office, California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit, P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Phone: Public Inquiry Unit: Voice: (916) 210-6276 or
(Toll-free in California) (800) 952-5225

Action #3: Contact your Congresspeople

Contact your member of Congress (MoC)  and to support H.R. 3478 – “Local and Independent Television Protection Act of 2017” which eliminates the “discount” for UHF television stations that Sinclair is using to skirt past the broadcasting ownership rule in their effort to merge with Tribune Broadcasting.

Minimal Script: I’m calling from [zip code] and am asking Rep. [___] to support H.R. 3478. (Note: Brownley and Carbajal are NOT on the list of cosigners yet.)

Contacts:
Rep. Julia Brownley: (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Other Rep Contacts: www.phoneyourrep.com

Background

Sinclair Broadcasting Group has been creeping up on us for a long time. The serious public outcry over their shenanigans came from John Oliver and a great article by the Guardian.

 Here’s a pretty good example of their blatant hard-right spin. If you don’t think this is  damaging to our society, you’re are seriously underestimating the power of a professional-looking white man in a tie lecturing people on “truth”.

Look at their take on Trump heroically stepping in to stop the damage he started in the first place.

These two video clips show the rise of racist hard-right tilt in our media and it’s effects.. The first short clip is a trailer from a documentary of a woman’s observation of her formerly kind and tolerant father descending into a miasma of hate. This is a scene that has been replayed in real life all over our country.

This clip describes the results of removing the Fairness Doctrine and replacing “objectivity” with “balance”.

“There was a universal agreement that the goal of journalism was objectivity and to discern the truth of conflicting claims.  The conservatives moved the argument from objectivity to one of balance. Under the rubrick of “balance”, the conservatives do better because the way the media now treats balance is  there is 99% of scientific consensus on global warming and 1% of scientists funded by the coal industry to say that’s not true, but they are presented in a balanced way, giving credit to both sides.”

Reading:

  • This is Sinclair, ‘the most dangerous US company you’ve never heard of’ (guardian)
  • DOJ close to okaying Sinclair-Tribune merger (broadcastcable.com)
  • How a conservative TV giant is ridding itself of regulation (NYTimes)
  • Pro-Trump outlet Sinclair is turning local news into Trump TV. Here’s what it looks like. (mediamatters)
  • Sinclair Broadcast News exposed its white nationalist agenda today (dailykos)(atlantic)
  • “Jared Kushner: We Struck Deal with Sinclair for Straighter Coverage” (Politico)
  • “Ex-Trump Spokesperson Joins Sinclair Broadcasting” (money.cnn.com)
  • “Trump-Friendly Company Buys Rights to Deliver Local News to 70 Percent of U.S. Households” (NYMag)

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