In late , Politico reported that President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, claimed to have struck a deal with Sinclair for favorable news coverage. More recently, the company attracted attention when Deadspin released a video montage of local news anchors across the country reading from the same prepared script accusing other news outlets of perpetuating fake news. The Sinclair-Tribune deal also drew opposition from other conservative media companies like Newsmax, which worried that increased consolidation would decrease competition.
Newsmax joined other media companies and organizations, including Dish Network and Public Knowledge, in asking the FCC to call for more time to consider the merger. The FCC changed some of its media ownership rules last year to allow broadcast companies to reach a larger percentage of households nationwide, and proposed to increase the number of stations a single company can own in one market.
Critics believed the moves were made specifically to benefit Sinclair and clear the way for its acquisition of Tribune Media. Sinclair would still have had to sell some of its stations to stay within the law, and the Department of Justice also reportedly called for the company to sell some stations. In his announcement Monday, Pai alluded to the possibility that Sinclair tried to skirt that requirement.
Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC's sole Democratic commissioner, said in a statement that she voted in favor of Pai's proposal. Bloomberg reported that Commissioner Brendan Carr did as well, securing the necessary majority to pass the order. A world without net neutrality might end up meaning that you have to pay more to access the internet content that you want.
But it also might crush innovation. Related Video.
Security Why You Should Care About Net Neutrality A world without net neutrality might end up meaning that you have to pay more to access the internet content that you want. View Comments. Sponsored Stories Powered By Outbrain. Here's Why. More business. Author: Nicholas Thompson Nicholas Thompson. Around the same time, the F. Sinclair responded by buying all but two of the Glencairn stations, for a fraction of their market value. Public-interest groups and media organizations complained to the F.
In , an F.
The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire
The pattern continued, with Sinclair buying back divested stations when regulations loosened. Shortly afterward, Sinclair filed applications to acquire five stations licensed to Cunningham, at what critics said was a tenth of their true market value. After the Baltimore Sun began reporting on the trips, the Ehrlich campaign said that it would reimburse the company for the flights.
The company had created a corporate production center, where it put together news reports that were sent to stations across the country. Although it was unusual for local TV broadcasts to cover national news stories, Sinclair required its stations to air these segments. Some stations saw their ratings decline—it turned out that viewers often preferred local news—but the strategy was still economically attractive, since the company could employ fewer journalists. Sinclair also introduced the mandatory commentary segments, in which Mark Hyman complained about liberal bias in the media, criticized Kerry, warned that Christianity was under attack, and spoke admiringly of President Bush.
Sinclair strongly supported the second Iraq War, and that February Hyman travelled to Iraq, looking for stories to counteract negative media coverage. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. In response, Sinclair reduced the length of the film and limited the number of stations on which it aired. The company also fired Lieberman, sued him for millions of dollars in damages, and attempted to prevent him from getting another job. The litigation, which dragged on for several years, ended in a settlement that forbade him from speaking publicly about Sinclair. Hills, who has blue eyes, freckles, and curly strawberry-blond hair, told me that, when Sinclair took over WPEC, she knew little about the company.
Around the country, hundreds of television stations were being bought and sold as the industry contracted. Sinclair acquired four other stations in Palm Beach around the same time, and nine others across Florida. At first, little at WPEC changed.
Sinclair's Oyster Bar, Manchester - Restaurant Reviews, Photos & Phone Number - TripAdvisor
Hills told me about covering the Delray Beach Jingle Bell Jog, a five-kilometre race, while wearing a Santa suit, and about her reporting on a drug epidemic in South Florida, work for which she won a Florida Associated Press Award. But there were worrying developments. Employees were required to sign contracts that gave the company the right to sue if they left their jobs early. They wanted you to keep your head down and not upset the fruit basket. Sometimes they were based on inaccurate information or faulty premises.
Widom regularly filled in as an anchor, and, on one occasion, he was assigned to interview a director who was making a film that was critical of Obama. Widom said that he was never asked to fill in as an anchor again. The segments were designed to look like news pieces, and to run directly after newscasts. The segments embarrassed many of the Sinclair journalists. WPEC tried to bury the segments by airing them at times when few people were watching, such as Sunday at 5 A.
When I heard that, I was, like, Is that what this industry has come to? The ideological changes were not unique to WPEC. In a paper published last April, researchers at Emory University found that, after stations are acquired by Sinclair, they begin to focus more on national news stories, and the slant of the coverage shifts notably to the right.
Smith, for his part, contends that Sinclair is simply counteracting liberal bias in the mainstream media. By the time of the Presidential primary, Sinclair was in a position to have a significant impact on the election. Its stations were concentrated in crucial states, such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Ohio. According to Rolling Stone , Sinclair hired one reporter to cover the race for all five. Trump won the state by about ten thousand votes. A campaign adviser for Ben Carson named Armstrong Williams was a commentator for Sinclair, and also owned several divested Sinclair stations. In , Sinclair had been sanctioned by the F.
A former anchor-reporter at WPEC named Israel Balderas told me that he and his colleagues were dispatched to interview Carson, who had a house in Palm Beach, on multiple occasions. Many Sinclair employees, Balderas said, felt trapped. They have spouses, they have children.
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In December of , shortly after Trump won the election, Politico reported that Jared Kushner had told a private gathering of business executives that the Trump campaign had given Sinclair stations greater access in exchange for a promise to air interviews without additional commentary. Kushner reportedly boasted that Sinclair reached larger audiences than CNN, citing the critical swing state of Ohio. Sinclair executives responded that there was nothing inappropriate about the arrangement.
Still, according to an analysis by the Washington Post , Sinclair stations aired many more segments that were critical of Clinton than were critical of Trump. Meanwhile, Sinclair-owned stations aired fifteen exclusive interviews with Trump, and ten with Pence. In January, , Trump appointed Ajit Pai, a vocal proponent of media deregulation, to be the chair of the F. Pai, formerly an associate general counsel at Verizon and an aide to Senators Jeff Sessions and Sam Brownback, was exactly the sort of commission head that Sinclair had been hoping for.
Cafe Sinclair's, West Baden Springs
Sinclair executives quickly tried to cultivate a relationship with Pai; shortly after the election, he addressed a gathering of Sinclair managers at the Four Seasons in Baltimore. The first was the reinstatement of the ultrahigh-frequency discount, an arcane rule that digital technology had rendered obsolete. The move served no practical purpose, but it freed Sinclair to acquire many more stations without bumping up against the national cap. The same month, Sinclair hired Boris Epshteyn, a Russian-born former Trump-campaign and Administration official, as a political correspondent; his pro-Trump commentaries now air several times a week.
Three weeks after the rule change, Sinclair announced that it had agreed to the multibillion-dollar merger with Tribune Media Company. Deals of that size typically take months to negotiate, and the timing led some critics to speculate that Sinclair had known about the reinstatement of the UHF discount in advance. The F. Perhaps most perniciously, Pai took steps toward approving a new broadcast-transmission standard called Next Gen TV, which would require all consumers in the U. A subsidiary of Sinclair owns six patents necessary for the new standard, which could mean billions of dollars in earnings for the company.
Jessica Rosenworcel, the sole Democratic commissioner at the F. Something is wrong. They are values we should sustain. Sinclair handled its proposed merger with a disturbing level of confidence, even after the Department of Justice began investigating the deal for potential antitrust violations.
Sinclair had offered to sell a number of stations, but once again planned to use illegitimate divestitures. But this President is unorthodox. In June, courts allowed the deal to proceed. A month later, the D. Public-interest groups and competitors filed objections to the Sinclair deal and, in late , in response to pressure from Congress, the F.
Then, in April, the Web site Deadspin edited the broadcasts of Sinclair anchors reciting the script about fake news into one terrifying montage , with a tapestry of anchors in different cities speaking in unison. It was a business objective centered on attracting more viewers.
The controversy united Sinclair critics on both ends of the political spectrum.