"The Point," Sinclair Broadcast Group's two-minute conservative commentary hosted by Sinclair vice president Mark Hyman, debuted a new format on January 31. Conspicuously absent from the segment's new opening sequence is the word "commentary."
Hyman has justified "The Point's" injection of a steady stream of anti-progressive and pro-Republican rhetoric into the local evening news broadcasts of Sinclair's 62 stations on the grounds that the word "commentary" appears on the screen throughout the segment. On the January 5 edition of "The Point," Hyman responded to criticism of the segment by claiming that "one would be hard pressed to find any other commentary or opinion program anywhere else on television -- broadcast or cable -- where the word 'commentary' appears the entire time the host is on the screen." And a December 15, 2004, article in The Baltimore Sun, titled "Sinclair editorials labeled as such," quoted Hyman responding to Media Matters' claim that Sinclair is abusing the public airwaves in airing "The Point" without a progressive counterpoint: "I think the word 'commentary' must flash across the screen ... about 58 times, and the word is on the screen the entire time that I appear -- we go out of our way to make sure people know it's purely opinion."
But in the new format, the word "commentary" does not appear until the middle or end of the segment, and then only at the bottom of the screen and in very small letters. On January 31, the word "commentary" first appeared 51 seconds into the segment and was on screen for a total of 13 seconds; on February 1, it first appeared 87 seconds into the segment and was shown for eight seconds.
All 62 TV stations that Sinclair owns or operates are required to air "The Point." An August 31, 2004, Baltimore Sun article noted that Sinclair estimates that "roughly 1.8 million American adults" watch "The Point" every evening, although Hyman's bio claims "The Point" has a "daily household audience [of] more than two and one-half million daily viewers." Media Matters leads SinclairAction.com, a coalition of groups and individuals protesting Sinclair's continued misuse of public airwaves to broadcast one-sided, politically charged programming without a counterpoint.