Sinclair defends news promos – in the most asinine way possible

Attacks programming on other networks – including on its own air

In an interview with TVNewscheck Sunday at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, news director Mark Neerman of NBC affiliate KSNV in town (formerly known as KVBC) defended his station’s news content and the company’s news anchors reading the infamous promo about “fake news”, complied by Deadspin and went viral. Many believe the template statement was meant to promote the policies of President Trump.

He told Harry Jessell: “If you look at the words, there is nothing wrong with it…. It was only a promo, for god’s sake,”, but later admitted “When we do it again next time, we will probably give local stations more freedom to come up with the messaging.”

He also dismissed the overwhelmingly negative response to the piece, saying some of the people who complained used a template of their own to protest Sinclair’s purchase of Tribune, which would give the station group 72 percent of the country, including WGN-TV in Chicago. He also said the commentary pieces from Boris Epshteyn and Mark Hyman is minuscule compared to the multiple hours of news the station does each day.

But Neerman also added he feels no need to added liberal voices to counter the conservative ones on the station, noting viewers receive plenty of liberal stuff “from network programming” and preceded to criticize Jimmy Kimmel and other late-night hosts for bashing the President.

I’m not sure what Neerman meant by “network programming”, but I take it refers to those “evil people in Hollywood” who don’t respect “Middle America”, which for some strange reason does not include Chicago.

Last week, this blog mentioned about the possibility of Sinclair potentially pre-empting shows it has odds with politically. For example, it could yank black-ish and Black Lightning because both shows deal with themes involving the African-American community, including the shootings by police of unarmed black men.

Is this the “liberal viewpoint” Neerman was referring to? Holy shit.

Local station managers have long been at odds with the networks over programming. In 1972 and 1973, numerous CBS affiliates pre-empted two episodes of Maude because they dealt with the title character getting an abortion. In 1974, the dead-in-the-ratings-water Marcus Welby, M.D. ran into problems with the gay community over an episode titled The Outing, forcing numerous ABC affiliates to drop the episode. In 2006, The Book Of Daniel was declined by several NBC affiliates due to content, including KARK in Little Rock. And Bonneville NBC affiliate KSL-TV in Salt Lake City had a history of turning down shows from the network and prior to 1995, CBS (including the referenced Maude episodes above.) Bonneville is owned by The Church Of Jesus Latter-Day Saints, a Mormon organization who once owned WTMX-FM and WDRV-FM in Chicago. At one point, KSL refused to air poker programming from NBC because of the church’s stance against gambling.

“Black Lightning” is one of the shows Sinclair could pre-empt because they don’t agree with its “liberal” point of view.

At the end of 2009, WPGA in Macon, Ga. disaffilated from ABC in part because local station managers found much of the network’s programming objectionable, including Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, and Ugly Betty. The owner – who obviously didn’t even watch his own station – famously told a Macon newspaper: “I had somebody tell me they’re running a good bit of gay and lesbian stuff on it. That’s really just in-your-face, so to speak, and I’m not sure that’s appropriate. That’s happening in prime time. I’m not really happy with it.” The odd part about this was WPGA held the syndication rights at the time to both Housewives and Grey’s.

And as this blog also pointed out last week, many affiliates in the South in the 1950s and 1960s objected to the broadcast networks coverage on the Civil Rights Movement, with NBC affiliate WLBT in Jackson, Miss. taking the lead in blocking out news stories and pre-empting programs featuring people of color, such as The Nat King Cole Show. WLBT station manager Fred Beard said the major networks promoted “Negro propaganda“.

In recent years, pre-emptions have become rarer and rarer as the major networks have tightened the clamps on them, whether if it is for “community reasons” or financial ones. Plus, affiliates now have to pay “reverse compensation” in order to carry network shows. Originally, affiliates received compensation for airing network programming, but was gradually eliminated in the 2000s.

Even worse for local stations, most prime-time programs are available via other means, including Hulu, CBS All-Access, and The CW App not to mention the network’s websites – eliminating the need for middlemen – the network affiliates. If I lived in Champaign and wanted to watch Grey’s, why should I do so from Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate WICD since the company who owns the station regularly insults me, the viewer?

From the above, you can see why the affiliate-network relationship is on ice.

But without network prime-time programming, the value of those stations would plummet. Stations would have to come up with other programming such as news – and it ain’t cheap. Ask KRON in San Francisco about the loss of NBC programming and their feeble attempt to replace it. Last I checked, networks still carry events that attracts a lot of viewers, including the NFL, college football, The Super Bowl, The World Series, and the Academy Awards, even if the latter has a “liberal” bent.

With Sinclair complaining about network programming from the Big Three, then maybe they should drop them when the affiliate contracts come up and start their own. They can spend their own money, fill their prime-time slots with their own programming predominately reflecting their point of view, without the need for “evil liberal Hollywood” on a platform that has the greatest reach (over-the-air TV) across the country.

Worked for PAX, right?