Tuesday, October 12, 2004

What to Do About Sinclair Broadcasting

Josh Marshall has been all over this issue. This is one of the most important issues in this campaign. We must do everything we can to get Sinclair or at least it's local stations to not air the Anti-Kerry smear film a week before the election.

One of Josh Marshall's readers has the right approach:

I’ve worked in the media business for 30 years and I guarantee you that sales is what these local TV stations are all about. They don’t care about license renewal or overwhelming public outrage. They care about sales only, so only local advertisers can affect their decisions.

Here's how to have an impact on the local Sinclair stations: first, watch the station and make a list of all of the local advertisers. Then, write to the sales manager -- not the general manager, but the sales manager -- and tell him that you're going to contact all of the local advertisers to register a protest about the station airing this program. Be specific -- mention the names of those local advertisers. Then, actually contact them (if you write or email, cc the sales manager). These stations make most of their income (around 60%) from local advertisers and will NOT want to have that income threatened.

This has worked numerous times. A recent example was when a local radio morning show host in North Carolina told his listeners to aim for bicyclists on the road (he was
ranting about how cyclists have no right to share the roadways). The station defended him for several days amidst public outcry, until the advertisers, under
pressure from outraged cyclists, began to make noise. Suddenly, the station
reversed itself, suspended the host for several days, and made him do public
service announcements for weeks about sharing the road with cyclists.

This can work! I plan to start tonight!

Another reader tried this and says it worked:

As suggested in a post you have further down, I just called the Cincinatti station's sales mgr. He was really concerned when I read him a list of local advertisers and said I'd be calling their advertising managers to express my displeasure that they choose to advertise on a Sinclair station. He practically begged me not to, saying "this involves people's livelihoods." And then I did call the local advertisers.

So you are correct. Local stations -- SALES MANAGERS and local advertisers AD MANAGERS are the pressure point.

Sinclair owns KDNL ABC 30 here in Saint Louis. Their phone number is (314) 436-3030.

Watch them tonight and tomorrow night and make a list of all their local advertisers. Then do as instructed above. Remember, be polite but firm. The person you are talking to at either the station or the advertiser may be a Kerry supporter and at least with the advertiser may not be aware of this. Tell them how concerned you are by this underhanded tactic and that you would be just as concern if it were Fahrenheit 911. The point is that such blatant attempts to influence the election are underhanded and anti-democratic.

Ask the advertiser if they support the decision of Sinclair. Remind the advertiser that Sinclair also refused to air the Night Line tribute to our fallen soldiers and ask if they supported that decision. Finally, tell them that you hope that they will reconsider their advertising on KDNL and that you will be watching.

If you will email me with a list of the advertisers, and better yet, their contact information, I will post that information here so that others can also contact them.

I'm in Phoenix right now so I can't do this myself until I get back.

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