Broadcaster compares itself to advocacy organization
December 16, 2004 (Washington, DC) -- MoveOn.org, a SinclairAction.com supporter, today accepted a challenge from Sinclair Broadcast Group to allow Sinclair to produce a message that MoveOn.org would email to its members.
On Tuesday, December 14, Media Matters for America -- supported by MoveOn.org, MediaChannel, Working Assets, Robert Greenwald (director of the film Outfoxed), Campaign for America's Future, Free Press, and AlterNet -- launched a nationwide campaign to expose the conservative slant of Sinclair television news programming. The groups focused their protest on Sinclair's airing of a daily news commentary, "The Point," read by Sinclair vice president Mark Hyman, while providing no opportunity for progressive counterpoints. The groups asked activists to contact advertisers on Sinclair stations to enlist them in the campaign to get Sinclair to provide balance to "The Point."
Hyman, in an interview with Broadcasting and Cable magazine on Tuesday, issued a challenge to MoveOn.org. "As soon as MoveOn.org allows me to use their email lists and post to their Web site, maybe then we will have a conversation," Hyman said.
"If Sinclair will agree on a way to share its license to broadcast into millions of homes, we'll gladly send our members an email with a Sinclair message," said Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org. In accordance with the terms of the license agreements for the 62 television stations it owns or operates, Sinclair Broadcast Group is able to broadcast over the public airwaves at no cost. In return, Sinclair has a responsibility to provide reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.
"The largest owner of television stations in the country is now equating itself with an advocacy organization, rather than a media outlet," said David Brock, President and CEO of Media Matters for America. "This highlights a pattern we've seen with members of the conservative media attempting to draw false equivalencies in order to support their arguments. The real issue is that Sinclair Broadcast Group is abusing its stewardship of the public airwaves by not providing airtime for opposing viewpoints."
The vehicle for this campaign is a new website, SinclairAction.com, where citizens can register concerns directly with companies that advertise on Sinclair stations. In just 48 hours, more than 51,000 people visited the site and sent approximately 18,000 emails to advertisers.