The blog of Frederick Clarkson

Sinclair: Sinking Faster?

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The extraordinary decline in the stock value of the Sinclair Broadcast Group and the rise of the Sinclair advertiser boycott, may be one of the most important trends in the popular media reform movement aimed at the problems caused by concentrated ownership of mass media.

One could argue that the massive publicity the company has received since it ordered its 62 stations to air an anti-Kerry propaganda film, cuts both ways –

liberal financier Sheldon Drobny, one of the owners of Air America Radio network wrote on Friday that Sinclair’s poor performance over time is due largely to the “politcal agenda” of the company’s CEO David Smith. Drobny thinks that “the company will be forced to change its programming or sell it’s valuable TV licenses to another company if Smith does not get his act together.”

While the Boycott Sinclair Broadcast Group web site now claims “over 50 confirmed advertiser pullouts from Sinclair, including at least one large national advertiser” the site has a policy of not revealing the names of companies that have pulled out — “Unless they have specifically instructed me to do so. At this time, I have no such instructions.”

The media and others, however, are not bound by this unusual choice. The Flint (Michgan) Journal reported on Friday that a Detroit law firm had pulled its ads from the only Sinclair affiliate in the state.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, MA) reported on Saturday that Democratic candidate for Governor’s Council (the body that picks judges in Massachusetts) has pulled his planned ads from the Sinclair owned station in Springfield, MA. “They have a first amendment right to broadcast it,” said attorney Vickery, “and Democrats have the First Amendment right to refuse to subsidize it.”

The Cincinatti Enquirer reported on Friday that a local pizza chain is pulling its ads for a day from the local Sinclair station.

The (Portland) Press Herald reported that a credit union that advertised on the Portland station was also joining the boycott.

While some of these decisions were made earlier in the week, as detailed on These advertiser lists are especially useful, since calls and emails to local stations are routed to Sinclair headquarters, which is happy to receive all the flack in its electronic waste baskets. The local Sinclair-owned stations have no say in the central decision making of the tightly held, Smith family-run company.

Written by fred

October 16th, 2004 at 11:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'Sinclair: Sinking Faster?'

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  1. This blog is part of a new community of bloggers associated with HotFlashReport. Check it out via the link on the left column.

    Frederick Clarkson

    17 Oct 04 at 11:14 am

  2. The reason for not releasing the names of advertisers who’ve dumped Sinclair is to save them embarrassment. Most business people don’t want to be put in the middle by something like this. They know there’s potential downside on both sides; many are perfectly willing to leave Sinclair if a big deal isn’t made out of it, but shy away otherwise.

    Be assured that advertisers are leaving this sinking ship in droves. Even the many who are paralyzed in place are furious at Sinclair for putting them in this position. And new business? Forget it, you’d have to be insane to start up with Sinclair now.

    The fact is, just about everybody sees how rotten this is and that’s why there’s no movement in favor of Sinclair. Who could get their heart into that? I almost feel sorry for those poor Sinclair bastards, we’re going to mow them down without mercy.


    17 Oct 04 at 8:09 pm

  3. I hope you are right, Mike. The difficulty with a policy of no public disclosure, is that it is difficult to prove that the boycott is working, except for the falling stock price. But of course, the boycott is not the only factor in the price decline, although I think it may become a major one. My little list of boycott participants, which I suspect is the tip of the iceberg, was culled from easy to find press accounts. Obviously these advertisers were willing to be public. While I understand the sensibility of not wanting to further embroil innocent businesses in controversy, I would prefer that those who are willing to stand up and be counted, be asked if they would be willing to do so.

    Frederick Clarkson

    17 Oct 04 at 8:47 pm

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