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Monday, Oct 11, 2004, 3:54 pm

Fighting Broadcast Bias on the Small Screen

By Phoebe Connelly

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Sinclair Broadcast Group has announced that it will preempt regular prime time programming on its 62 affiliate stations to broadcast Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, a documentary produced by Carlton Sherwood, formerly a reporter with The Washington Times and also briefly an employee of the Department of Homeland Security. The documentary will air sometime between the 21st and the 24th of October.

The New York Times sums up some of the controversy here:
Called "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," the documentary features Vietnam veterans who say their Vietnamese captors used Mr. Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony, in which he recounted stories of American atrocities, prolonging their torture and betraying and demoralizing them. Similar claims were made by prisoners of war in a commercial that ran during the summer from an anti-Kerry veterans group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Two of the former prisoners who appeared in the Swift Boat advertisement were interviewed for the movie, including Ken Cordier, who had to resign as a volunteer in the Bush campaign after the advertisement came out.

Sinclair's plan to show the documentary was first made public by The Los Angeles Times on Saturday.

Mark Hyman, Sinclair's vice president for corporate relations, who doubles as a conservative commentator on its news stations, said the film would be shown because Sinclair deemed it newsworthy.
The Kerry Campaign has been offered air time to respond after the documentary has aired, but "It's hard to take an offer seriously from a group that is hellbent on doing anything to help elect President Bush even if that means violating basic journalism standards," said Chad Clanton, a Kerry spokesman.

Media Matters has put together a collection of the press coverage thus far, as well as a PDF of the letter sent by 18 senators demanding a FCC investigation.

And where will this be broadcast? "Sinclair's television group includes 20 FOX, 19 WB, 6 UPN, 8 ABC, 3 CBS, 4 NBC affiliates and 2 independent stations and reaches approximately 24% of all U.S. television households." Check out their interactive map to find the station near you that will be broadcasting.

How to take action:

Contact Sinclair Directly:

David D. Smith
President and Chief Executive Officer
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
10706 Beaver Dam Road
Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030

410-568-1500 (Main Telephone)
410-568-1533 (Main Fax)

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Contact your local station affiliate

Ask them to refrain from engaging in partisan broadcasting during an election season. Request that they keep a file of your letter in their “public” file, a file that could be consulted during their next FCC licensing process.

Contact the FCC:

Michael Powell, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W., Room 8-A204A
Washington, DC 20554


Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Complaints
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Toll Free: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice, 
1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY.
Consumer and Mediation Specialists are available
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET
Toll-Free Fax: 1-866-418-0232

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Ask them to investigate the use of public airways for partisan broadcasting in violation of the Communications Act that requires the station to “afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office.”

Contact the Bush Campaign:

P.O. BOX 10648
Arlington, VA 22210

Phone: 703.647.2700
Fax: 703.647.2993

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Ask them to publicly renounce the choice of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group to broadcast this partisan documentary as news during an election season.

Contact Businesses that Advertise on Sinclair Stations:

Ask them to withdraw their advertising dollars in the face of this negative, and illegal campaigning.

Contact Your Senators:

Ask them to join the 18 senators who have already called for the FCC to investigate Sinclair’s actions.

Phoebe Connelly, a former managing editor at In These Times, is Web Editor at The American Prospect.

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