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Archive for Thursday, October 21, 2004

Sinclair Broadcast Group amends Kerry film plans

October 21, 2004

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— Sinclair Broadcast will not widely broadcast in its entirety a documentary critical of John Kerry's anti-war activities, and plans to show only parts of the 42-minute film incorporated in a special, the company said.

Parts of the film "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," will be shown during a program examining the use of documentaries to influence elections, Sinclair said Tuesday.

Its announcement came hours after shareholders challenged Sinclair's plans to air the program, saying the controversial broadcast might hurt their investment.

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., the owner of 62 television stations, has been criticized for ordering the stations to pre-empt regular programming to air the show. The company, which has previously declined comment on the issue, said reports that the documentary would be aired in its entirety were "inaccurate."

"A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media," will examine the "role of the media in filtering the information contained in these documentaries, allegations of media bias by media organizations that ignore or filter legitimate news and the attempts by candidates and other organizations to influence media coverage," the company said in a statement. It will air Friday on 40 of the company's stations.

Sinclair fired its Washington bureau chief Monday after he publicly criticized the company's plans.

"We have not ceded, and will not in the future cede, control of our news reporting to any outside organization or political group," said Joe DeFeo, Sinclair's vice president of news.

The Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, arguing that the broadcast should be considered an illegal in-kind contribution to the Bush campaign.

Sinclair shares dropped more than 3 percent Tuesday, falling 23 cents to $6.26 a share on the NASDAQ market.

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