Sinclair's Journalism From Above

The Sinclair Broadcast Group, the single largest operator of local television stations in the United States, has gained notoriety after ordering its 62 local stations to preempt prime time programming to broadcast an anti-Kerry film a few days before the November 2, 2004 general election. The order has prompted criticism that Sinclair is "failing federal broadcast requirements to reflect local interests ... a section of federal law that requires media companies to cover local issues and provide an outlet for local voices," reports Leon Lazaroff. The order to run the anti-Kerry program is simply the latest example of how it imposes its political will on its local affiliates. "The company increasingly uses 'distance-casting' whereby local news, sports and weather is uniformly broadcast to its many stations from Sinclair's headquarters in suburban Baltimore," Lazaroff writes. "Television viewers receive on-camera reports from 'News Central' that appear to be coming from local stations. Sinclair spokesman Mark Hyman delivers conservative commentary that must be carried on local news reports."