Critics generally decry the reduction in viewpoint such a change likely will produce. But they have a more specific objection — the help it will give to Sinclair Broadcasting to expand, a development that has implications in Arkansas. Sinclair is seeking to buy Tribune Media. That means an even larger number of stations, including in many smaller markets, with newscasts stocked with national conservative commentators.
Media Matters (not Think Progress as I originally wrote) explains Sinclair and the number of markets it affects.
Conservative local TV news giant Sinclair Broadcast Group has been quietly injecting right-wing spin into local newscasts for years. The company thrives when it flies under the radar, serving local audiences who might not realize what they’re tuning in for — so Media Matters is helping to highlight where communities can fight back.
Sinclair’s most well-known tactic for slanting newscasts is its use of nationally produced “must-run” commentary segments. The segments, which all Sinclair-owned and operated news stations are required to air, include (frequently embarrassing) pro-Trump propaganda missives from former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn, rants about “politically correct” culture from former Sinclair exec Mark Hyman, and fearmongering “Terrorism Alert Desk” segments that seem to often focus on just about anything Muslims do.
Now Sinclair is ramping up its efforts with a proposed acquisition of Tribune Media stations. The purchase would allow Sinclair to expand its presence in mid-sized cities across the country (particularly in battleground states) and enter the media markets of the largest U.S. cities for the first time. Many of the top markets Sinclair will enter — like New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA, Chicago, IL, and Houston, TX — are also top markets for black and Latinx viewers specifically. Sinclair is working to get final regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice for its acquisition of Tribune Media. If the acquisition gets the agencies’ final stamp of approval, Sinclair-controlled newscasts will reach nearly three out of four U.S. households.
Sinclair owns KATV in Little Rock, long a dominant voice in local news.
Acquisition of Tribune Media would expand Sinclair’s reach in Arkansas by giving it KFSM/KXNW in Fort Smith/Fayetteville and WREG in Memphis.
You can run to your remote, but you’ll have a harder time hiding from Boris in Arkansas then.