Sinclair Broadcast Group has allowed a critical advertisement by a liberal consumer watchdog group to run, but it is running its own defense before and after the negative ad, CNN reported.
The 30 second ad produced by Allied Progress condemns Sinclair for mandating its anchors to read scripted promotional content, specifically citing the videos that went viral in recent weeks showing local news anchors parroting the same message attacking one-sided journalism. Allied Progress’ message also calls on viewers to stop Sinclair’s proposed merger with Tribune Media, which would expand Sinclair’s reach to 72 percent of American households.
“Americans trust local media to deliver objective news about the communities where they live and work, but those watching scores of Sinclair stations around the country last week were instead force-fed politically inspired, anti-media propaganda that should have earned President Trump a writing credit,” Executive Director of Allied Progress said in a statement to TPM when the ads went out last week.
“That so many local anchors would have to choose between providing for their families and demonstrating sound journalistic integrity only underscores the importance of stopping Sinclair’s stated goal of controlling every local news station in the country. The Sinclair/Tribune merger must be rejected,” he said.
The 30 second advertisement —which is running on four Sinclair-owned stations in Washington, D.C., Des Moines, Seattle and Baltimore — is preceded by a 15 second Sinclair ad that states the company thinks “the ad is misleading” but they wanted to let viewers decide.
“This station, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, is proud to present both sides of issues. For that reason, we have agreed to air the commercial you are about to see, opposing Sinclair’s acquisition of additional television stations,” the Sinclair ad says, according to CNN. “We think the ad is misleading, but wanted to let you decide. Thank you.”
The Allied Progress advertisement follows that message, warning viewers that “this” is what happens when “local news isn’t local,” before showing the now famous Deadspin compilation of videos of anchors around the country assailing “fake” stories and bias in journalism. The ad then goes on to ask viewers to oppose the merger, calling it “extremely dangerous to our Democracy.”
Right after that ad, the following message is read, via CNN:
“The misleading ad you just saw focused on a brief promotional message that simply said we’re a source for truthful news. It ignored thousands of hours of local news we produce each year to keep you informed. The ad was purchased by a group known for its liberal bias, and we hope you won’t buy into the hysteria and hype.”
Sinclair has come under fire in recent weeks for its mandated promotional messages that require local news anchors to read scripted content, often with a conservative leaning message. The Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department are reviewing the Tribune-Sinclair merger to determine whether it’s in the public’s best interest.