Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Advertizing blitz

Josh Marshall has been all over the effort to target advertisers for Sinclair-owned stations. They seem to think that calling the ad manager for the station to inform him that you are calling each local advertiser to tell them you will not be buying their product/using their service because of Sinclair's decision to air anti-Kerry propaganda from the group POWs and Swift Boat Vets for Truth and a Washington Times writer turned Bush administration worker will be effective. I have no doubt that even a handful of people will get these local stations to turn renegade and not air the movie. But I'm more interested in the legal argument here. I'm not sure how Sinclair thinks they can run this as a news item. Number one, it is a "documentary" movie, not a 2-minute segment for a news broadcast. But most especially, it was produced by a political action group, a 527, and cannot possibly be construed as fair or balanced. Ordinarily, they would have to pay for the right to use air time on these stations, but Sinclair wants to give it to them for free. Technically, Sinclair does not own the airwaves which they are letting these use, the public does. And Sinclair gets a license to use those airwaves from the FCC as long as they abide by fair use rules and general practices. What they are doing flies in the face of all of that. Not to mention what could be construed as an illegal corporate contribution in violation of McCain-Feingold, and the use of publicly-traded Sinclair resources being used for a narrow partisan agenda. What's most vexing is how the board at Sinclair thought they would even get this by anyone. It is obviously a bunch of old, white Republican men who have no idea just how effective the blogosphere is at informing and acting on just this kind of thing. Blogs are probably going to make the difference in this story, especially Josh, so do your part and call. Here is a list of stations owned by Sinclair and lists of advertisers on those stations. If you live in a Sinclair market (I don't) then geet on the phone to those local ad people and hammer the point home.

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