This company may be controlling your local news

Have you heard of Sinclair Broadcast Group? If you have family in Albany and Macon, Georgia, there’s a good chance they have viewed some form of content from Sinclair in the past year.

Sinclair is the nation’s largest owner of television networks. It owns, and often operates, nearly 200 networks with 614 stations in 89 markets across the U.S. In its current market hold, Sinclair reaches 39 percent of American households, straddling the Federal Communication Commission’s rule limiting entities from owning stations that reach over 39 percent of television households.

But if a proposed purchase of Tribune Media by Sinclair is approved by federal regulators, Sinclair could surge above that limit, adding 42 stations to its network and reaching a total of 72 percent of American households.

Aside from the sneaky, regulatory loopholes Sinclair will use to skirt by these federal regulations, Sinclair’s purchase and domination in America’s television market is immensely concerning for two reasons.

Every week, Sinclair pushes “must-run” segments to its 173 networks, requiring them to incorporate them into their broadcasting within 48 hours of receipt. These segments, which are centrally produced by Sinclair, take a hardline right-wing stance on the news. In practicality, Sinclair is forcing propaganda down its viewers’ necks every week, often against the wishes of its networks’ employees.

To some, this propaganda is much larger than simply conservative propaganda. A former Sinclair anchor wrote an op-ed in The Providence Journal, and said, “If you don’t see the symbiotic relationship between Sinclair and [President Donald Trump], you’re simply keeping your head in the sand.”

Sinclair’s news telling is immensely disingenuous. A YouTube video titled “Sinclair’s script for stations” shows its hundreds of networks parroting the same right-wing speech against fake news. In one part of the speech, news anchors from across the nation recite, “Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think. This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.” Sounds a little…ironic, don’t you think?

In a story published in this week’s issue of The Signal, reporter Victor Sledge writes about the lack of racial and gender representation in news media today. The same sentiment can be applied to Sinclair’s networks. When local news becomes not-so-local, as Sinclair is doing, the appeal and purpose of local news fades quickly. Local news plays a vital role in America, serving to deliver objective news of interest to communities across the nation.

This is the same principle The Signal applies to its reporting. We believe we play a valuable role in the student life of Georgia State, providing objective news of interest to the student body from a student perspective. Fortunately, The Signal does not face the same concern that Sinclair’s 173 stations do. The Signal is entirely independent of any corporation or university and actively seeks to provide perspective from any political stance.