Sinclair Broadcasting Retreats on Airing Full Anti-Kerry Film

In a huge win for grass-roots activism, Sinclair Broadcasting has issued a statement in response to demands made by its shareholders in a letter underwritten by Media Matters, that it will not air the entire anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor without fair time for reply on the eve of the election. [Note: Sinclair back-pedals a bit by saying it never intended to air the entire film but Reuters and CBS Market Watch are more credible. More CBS here.]

As what Media Matters contends is a direct result of the uproar against the broadcasting network's plans, which would have resulted in the airing of the film to 25% of the country's view public, the station saw advertisers pulling ads and its stock tumble 17%, costing shareholders $105 million.

A group of shareholders threatened to file suit unless the company's stations gave equal time to the opposition.

At approximately 3:45 p.m. (EDT) on October 19, a representative of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. called Mr. Jim Glickenhaus, a general partner in the Wall Street investment firm Glickenhaus & Co., to state that a response was forthcoming to a demand letter submitted earlier in the day by Glickenhaus, whose firm holds 6,100 shares of Sinclair stock. The demand letter, underwritten by Media Matters for America (MMFA), threatened legal action if Sinclair aired the anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal on all 62 of its stations reaching up to 25 percent of U.S. TV households.

At approximately 4 p.m., Sinclair representatives faxed Glickenhaus a statement declaring that Sinclair Broadcast Group will not be airing Stolen Honor in its entirety, but will instead air a "news special" to be "produced with the highest journalistic standards and integrity."

Both Glickenhaus and MMFA agree that Sinclair's decision satisfies the basic request in Glickenhaus's demand letter. In his letter, Glickenhaus demanded that Sinclair either not broadcast Stolen Honor or "provide those with views opposed to the allegations in the film an equal opportunity to respond."

Kudos to Media Matters and the little guys.

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