An investigation of FCC, SEC documents in a citizen-filed 'Petition to Deny' licensing for three stations controlled by the media behemoth may finally help put an end to the 'sham' control of our public airwaves...
Baltimore's crowded TV market highlights the shell game that media goliath Sinclair Broadcasting plays across the nation to illegally dominate the information Americans can consume over our public airwaves. The agency tasked with overseeing those airwaves, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has long turned a blind eye to allow Sinclair, the very powerful purveyor of rightwing propaganda, to violate US law.
Congress passed the Telecommunications Act [PDF] so no single television company could dominate the news and information available to "We the People" in any single market or even nationwide. Under the law, a single TV company is permitted to reach no more than 39% of viewers in the United States over all. In a single local broadcast market, one company may apply to own two stations --- if there are nine or more stations in that market.
Baltimore has just eight stations, and three of them are actually owned by Sinclair: WBFF, WNUV, and WUTB.
Sinclair lawyers (who also represent Cunningham Broadcasting and Deerfield Media) will say Sinclair owns WBFF, Cunningham owns WNUV and Deerfield owns WUTB. But, in a September 1 legal Petition to Deny the renewal of all three stations' licenses, due to both the shell game and the lies Sinclair has told to protect its unlawful ownership, Republican attorney Art Belendiuk researched Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents to prove that both Deerfield and Cunningham are actually both controlled by Sinclair.
"Sinclair controls three television stations in Baltimore, while the FCC rules do not permit it to control more than one," the petition, filed on behalf of local viewer Ihor Gawdiak, argues, while detailing how the shell game of nominal ownership by the other two companies is simply meant to mask Sinclair's violation of federal law...
On today's BradCast: Apparently, the mega-merger of non-wingnut media corporations is bad for consumers and competition, according to Trump's U.S. Department of Justice. But the mega-merger of right-wing media goliaths is just fine, according to Trump's FCC --- even if they must roll back decades of rules (and change the way math works) to maintain local media ownership of newspaper and TV stations in order to do it. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Today, just minutes before airtime, the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced their lawsuit to try and block the proposed $85 billion mega-merger between AT&T and Time-Warner, claiming the takeover would "substantially lessen competition" and result in "higher prices and less innovation for millions of Americans." While that might normally be encouraging and long-overdue anti-trust news from a U.S. Administration, the Trump Administration's war on CNN (whose parent company is owned by Time-Warner) and a separate move by Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai late last week, gutting decades-old regulations that prevented companies from buying up local TV and newspaper outlets in the same market, makes the DoJ's claims a bit difficult to accept at face value.
Joining us today is DANA FLOBERG, policy analyst at the non-partisan media watchdog FreePress.net, to explain how the FCC's vote last week to kill those rules threatens independent media and local news competition and seems to contradict the Administration's response to to the AT&T/Time-Warner merger, even as it paves the way for another planned mega-merger between the far right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media. That merger, along with the FCC's disturbing actions last week, with little publiclity and no public comment period, would allow Sinclair to reach some 72% of American viewers in an unprecedented takeover of as many as all of the local TV news outlets in your home town, eventually!
Floberg tells me her organization favors blocking the deal between AT&T and Time-Warner, but she remains "concerned on Trump's saber-rattling" with CNN as part of the Administration's objection to the deal. She says that merger must be blocked becaus "it's the right thing to do for Americans, not to suit Trump's personal vendetta."
As to last week's vote to overturn decades of local media consolidation regulations, she details what the new rules will allow, and explains how the FCC's Pai has "been rushing all these changes so they're in place by the time they have to approve the merger" between Sinclair and Tribune Media. In the bargain, as she discussed in a recent article at Free Press, Pai's argument that the consolidation of local media by huge corporations is needed to help struggling newspaper outlets doesn't meet the smell test. "They've already used the argument that 'consolidation will invigorate' local markets," she says, "and it hasn't worked". Sinclair is "already the largest broadcaster in the U.S.," she warns and the "first thing they do" after buying up stations "is they close newsrooms."
Then, Desi Doyen joins us to explain the decision made by by Nebraska's Public Service Commission on Monday to adopt an alternate route for the long-sought, controversial KeystoneXL Pipeline, just days after more than 200,000 gallons of dirty tar-sands crude from Canada spilled out of the original Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota.
Also today, Trump ratchets up his war-mongering with North Korea, this time by declaring them to be a state-sponsor of terrorism. And, one of his top generals explained over the weekend how Americans needn't worry, because he'd never facilitate an "illegal" war or nuclear launch by Trump. (Feel better? I don't.)
Callers then ring in on all of the above today. Enjoy!...
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