October 19, 2004
Washington, DC: The independent presidential campaign of Ralph Nader and Peter Miguel Camejo is urging managers of Sinclair Broadcasting Group stations to defy the orders of CEO David Smith to broadcast a so-called “news commentary” on John Kerry just days before the election. A team of Nader/Camejo Corporate Crimebusters will deliver letters to this effect to 16 local station managers in 12 states on Wed., October 20th.
Smith’s demand that local broadcasters pre-empt regular primetime programming with what is essentially ideology masquerading as information is a crass attempt to exploit control of the public airwaves to promote a private political agenda, and is a flagrant example of how our democracy is being swamped by the confluence of money, politics and concentrated media.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group has taken advantage of increasingly relaxed FCC regulations under the Bush administration to expand its media empire, and is now owner of the single largest group of television stations in the country, reaching an estimated 24 per cent of U.S. households. Sinclair executives have paid for this privilege with $65,000 in political contributions to Republican candidates since the beginning of 2004, and a total of $300,000 over the past decade, according to FEC filings.
The company’s overt involvement in partisan politics is not new. Back in September 2001, Sinclair required affiliates to broadcast messages conveying their full support for the Bush administration. In July 2003, it refused to let stations air a DNC ad countering Bush’s State of the Union contention that Saddam Hussein tried to buy uranium from Niger. It aired purportedly legitimate news stories that it was later revealed were actually written, produced, and paid for by the Bush administration. Last April, Sinclair ordered its ABC affiliates not to air Nightline’s tribute to U.S soldiers killed in Iraq lest it quell public enthusiasm for the protracted occupation of that country.
Sinclair’s attack on the democratic process, which relies on an informed electorate, is the most egregious example to date of the pressing need to reclaim our democracy from the accelerating grip of big-money politics and concentrated corporate media. This requires real campaign finance reform, which means public financing of public elections; some free access to ballot qualified candidates on television and radio; vigorous antitrust regulation and enforcement; ending broadcasters' free licensed use of the public airwaves; and the reversion of some organized time on our publicly owned airwaves to establish audience-controlled radio and TV networks to ensure the diversity of voices and solutions necessary for a really free press and a true civic democracy.
A team of Corporate Crimebusters will deliver letters to station managers at the following locations on October 20th:
Corporate Crimebusters is a Nader for President Campaign initiative that brings electoral politics back to the grassroots. Its 20 teams are spread out across 38 states to shine a spotlight on local issues and reach the silenced majority—those 50% of the electorate who do not bother to vote because they have been effectively disenfranchised by a duopolistic party system in the thrall of big corporate interests. It is time for people to take their government back from the big money controllers who call the shots for both major parties.