Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Poor Poor Little ol' Sinclair


In an interview Friday, Sinclair CEO David Smith portrayed himself as a free speech advocate -- not a Republican activist. He reported spending most of his TV time watching golf and never meddles with his company's news operation. "People describe me as a right-wing loony-tune conservative," Smith said. "The news on the [Sinclair] Sacramento CBS affiliate could be the most liberal left-wing loony-tune ever invented, but I couldn't tell
you. . . . I don't watch my Sacramento news. The fact that we're in control supposedly of all the TV stations -- I'm not in control of anything. That news organization has 100 people in it and they've all got their own view."

Although Smith apparently planned to air "Stolen Honor" in its entirety initially, public pressure moved Sinclair to air a more balanced program. The controversy nevertheless stoked debate about the ability of large media companies to influence public affairs. Sinclair's tactics frequently have drawn fire from public interest groups that fear media concentration and abuse of the public airwaves, a criticism that does not trouble Smith.

"They just do what public interest groups do, which is make noise that suits their agenda," Smith said, noting that his acquisitions have received approval from the federal authorities. "If the public interest groups have a problem, it's not with me. It's with the FCC and [the Department of] Justice." Smith has given many of his peers the impression that he may as well be making widgets instead of running a business that has special obligations to serve the public interest, an impression Smith does little
to dispel.

TVWeek reports that "A POW Story" drew a "modest audience." Data from Nielsen Media Research estimated the hour-long program was seen in an average 25,000 homes in 15 metered markets. The highest household rating, a 5.5, was registered in the 35th-largest market in the country, the Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville area, population 813,210. The lowest rating, a 1.9, was in the 61st-largest market, Richmond, Va., population 509,860.

Bummer for poor wee Sinclair that they could not help Chimpy steal the election.

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