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Since September of 2011, Sinclair Broadcast Group or their affiliated companies (Cunningham Broadcasting, Deerfield Media) have acquired or obtained a Local Marketing Agreement (LMA) for almost one hundred local television stations. According to its website, Sinclair now operates or owns 29 ABC, 26 CBS, and 17 NBC local affiliated stations in addition to 41 Fox and 54 other affiliated stations.
Fox News Masquerading As Reputable Journalism
By snatching up ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates, Sinclair masks itself under the traditions of reputable journalism of the three historic broadcast giants. The public trust of news anchors built over decades is used to distract viewers from news stories slanted to provoke outrage at the United States government and policies opposed by conservatives. News stories for Sinclair stations are manufactured by the parent organization and inserted into the local news. The stories employ interviews with conservative sources, often with no interview with the agency or organization being accused of fraud, waste, or corruption.
In Reno, Nevada, the NBC affiliate, KRNV, has run stories on almost a daily basis from the parent organization that suggested and/or accuse waste or government conspiracy. In some cases, clips from Fox News are used, rather than from the NBC parent organization. Recently KRNV 6 PM broadcast ran ‘A’ Block stories (headline news) regarding the Affordable Care Act (e.g.; March 26, April 1) and gun laws (e.g.; March 28) that used people with a known conservative bias as their sources.
The LMA Loophole
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules do not allow licensing of more than one television station in a market to a person or company; however, during the first George Bush administration (1991) Sinclair Broadcast Group convinced the FCC to allow Local Marketing Agreements (LMA’s) that would allow a person or company to own one station and “operate” another station providing the latter station was licensed to a different person or corporation.
This has allowed Sinclair to go on a buying binge of television stations in the same market as their Fox stations. Sinclair uses Deerfield Media and Cunningham Broadcasting to own the licenses of stations where Sinclair already owns a television license. All Deerfield and Cunningham licensed stations are operated by Sinclair, and the family that owns Sinclair controls 90% of the stock in Cunningham Broadcasting.
In Reno, Nevada, the Sinclair Broadcast Group owns the license for Fox affiliate, KRXI, and operates the MyNetworkTV affiliate, KAME (licensed to Deerfield Media,) as well as the NBC affiliate, KRNV (recently licensed to Cunningham Broadcasting.)
This allows Sinclair to effectively control three stations in one market and supplant reputable journalism with conservative propaganda.
The Lingering Question
There is ample evidence that Sinclair Broadcast Group is using loopholes in the FCC regulations to control multiple stations in a single market. It is also apparent that news stories manufactured by Sinclair are shoddy and biased. The question is whether or not the people behind Sinclair are trying to pander to conservatives in order to increase profits or if they are perverting journalism for a conservative agenda. In one case it is a matter of greed, in the other, a matter of a betrayal to the American citizen.
An audit of all of the communications, finances and contributions of the companies, vendors, Board of Directors, and owners involved is the only way we will know.