Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 12, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

SINCLAIR UPDATE....The folks who run Sinclair Broadcast are a charming bunch of folks. Not only are they forcing all their stations to run a prime-time smear on John Kerry a week before the election, they're now comparing their critics to white supremacist nutjobs:

The networks had this opportunity over a month ago to speak with these people. They chose to suppress them. They chose to ignore them. They are acting like Holocaust deniers, pretending these men don't exist.

Holocaust deniers. Lovely. So what to do? One of Josh Marshall's readers has the right approach:

Ive worked in the media business for 30 years and I guarantee you that sales is what these local TV stations are all about. They dont care about license renewal or overwhelming public outrage. They care about sales only, so only local advertisers can affect their decisions.

Here's how to have an impact on the local Sinclair stations: first, watch the station and make a list of all of the local advertisers. Then, write to the sales manager -- not the general manager, but the sales manager -- and tell him that you're going to contact all of the local advertisers to register a protest about the station airing this program. Be specific -- mention the names of those local advertisers. Then, actually contact them (if you write or email, cc the sales manager). These stations make most of their income (around 60%) from local advertisers and will NOT want to have that income threatened.

This has worked numerous times. A recent example was when a local radio morning show host in North Carolina told his listeners to aim for bicyclists on the road (he was ranting about how cyclists have no right to share the roadways). The station defended him for several days amidst public outcry, until the advertisers, under pressure from outraged cyclists, began to make noise. Suddenly, the station reversed itself, suspended the host for several days, and made him do public service announcements for weeks about sharing the road with cyclists.

This can work! I plan to start tonight!

Another reader tried this and says it worked:

As suggested in a post you have further down, I just called the Cincinatti station's sales mgr. He was really concerned when I read him a list of local adverstisers and said I'd be calling their advertising managers to express my displeasure that they choose to advertise on a Sinclair station. He practically begged me not to, saying "this involves people's livelihoods." And then I did call the local advertisers.

So you are correct. Local stations -- SALES MANAGERS and local advertisers AD MANAGERS are the pressure point.

Please do what you can to get the word out.

You know what to do now. Go do it.

Kevin Drum 12:34 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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