WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess) — A new viral video made the rounds over the weekend demonstrated just how much pull media companies have in local markets and renewing concerns about the negative effects of media ownership.
The video, first highlighted by Think Progress and Deadspin, shows newscasters at a number of local news stations all reading the same script from parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group, which the local news teams were required to deliver. In the video, the newscasters, all using identical language, express concerns about the rising prevalence of ‘fake news’ on social media and suggesting that some major media companies run stories without verifying the sources behind the stories.
Sinclair, which first launched in 1971 as Chesapeake Television Corporation, has been aggressively acquiring local media outlets, including the proposed acquisition of news giant Tribune Media, which Sinclair hops to acquire for a reported $3.9 billion. If the deal, which is now facing regulatory scrutiny, completes, Sinclair could wind up with more than 200 television statements in the U.S.
The Sinclair deal was helped along after the Federal Communications Commission, under Trump appointee Ajit Pai, began to relax or outright eliminate a number of rules, including how many local news stations a single entity can control.
Sinclair has also been criticized for its prepackaged news, some of which is mandatory for its local news stations to run, and which often appears to have a strong conservative bias.
On Monday, President Trump took to his favorite communication platform, Twitter, to Sinclair in a series of tweets, suggesting that the chain’s news coverage is “far superior” to rivals such as CNN and NBC. Sinclair has been a supporter of the president’s policies and has hired former Trump surrogates such as the Russian born political strategist Boris Epshteyn, who served as a senior advisor on the Trump campaign.