Saturday, May 01, 2004

How about a $500,000 fine? It sure is obscene to ME 

The Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc, has a problem. They are rightwing shills for the Bush administration, extraordinaire.

As you may know, Ted Koppel's Nightline had a special show last night (Friday, April 30, 2004). They had no guests, no commentary, no news stories. Instead, they showed approximately 500 or so U.S. soldiers that had been killed in Iraq in the war so far. They showed pictures, names and hometowns, and maybe some other information--I don't know for sure, I was working that night.

This infuriates the right, for some reason. Whenever someone does this who isn't affiliated with Fox News or NewsMax or the WorldNet Daily, they are instantly assumed to be criticizing the war. This happens whether it's a roster of the dead, or even a simple rendering of the number killed so far. The assumption is: If you bring it to the public's attention, they'll get queasy and start to talk about things--like how many is too many dead American soldiers?

And that is something they consider critical. Subtly propagandizing. Slyly shading the story. Just by reporting the bare facts, and nothing else.

So the Sinclair Broadcast Group decided to take action. In "support" of the President. They decided to make a hairy-assed big deal out of this program, and they refused to run Nightline that evening in all eight of their affiliates under their ownership.

First, if they'd just done nothing but business as usual, it wouldn't have blown up in their faces and made them not just look bad for censoring the show, but also for taking a completely unnecessary stand. The show would have aired, the flak would have settled quickly, and that would have been all.

Nope. They had to take action and side with the rightwing shills who consider anything except the most jingoistic teletype as pure treason. And now they may have to pay for that decision with cold, hard cash.

Dayton urges FCC to probe broadcaster 'Nightline' ban

Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., called on federal regulators Friday to investigate whether one of the nation's largest owners of television stations, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., unfairly denied the public access to ABC's "Nightline" program.

The company announced Thursday that it had ordered its eight ABC affiliates not to carry Friday night's program, in which anchor Ted Koppel read the names and showed photos of the more than 700 U.S. soldiers and Marines who have been killed in Iraq since the March 19, 2003, invasion.

In a statement, Sinclair said the "Nightline" program appeared to be "motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."

"Nightline" officials countered that the broadcast was intended as "an expression of respect which simply seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country."

In a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell -- son of Secretary of State Colin Powell -- Dayton said Sinclair's action "highlights the growing danger of media consolidation in this country."

Dayton said it concerns him that a single company can use its public airspace to prevent eight major U.S. markets from seeing politically controversial programming.

Tsk, tsk, tsk.


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