A project of
About Sinclair Watch
Sinclair Media Watch
Citizens for Media Literacy
Sinclair Media Watch is a grassroots effort to evaluate local news coverage provided by WLOS-TV, the only broadcast television station based in Asheville, NC.
Volunteers are taping and analyzing the news coverage of WLOS to document how Sinclair is dictating news content and undermining the integrity of the station's news staff. This documentation will be published and shared with the FCC during the public comment period for the renewal of the station's license. Public comment ends Nov. 1.
"WLOS has a proud history of serving our mountain region for half a century, but local viewers have seen a marked change in the station's news coverage since it was taken over by Sinclair," according to local media activist Wally Bowen, one of the group's organizers. "Sinclair holds the only commercial TV license assigned to western North Carolina, and it is up to local citizens to hold them accountable for how they use our public airwaves."
Sinclair Media Watch will also consider a boycott of WLOS advertisers to help lift the heavy hand of Sinclair censorship, Bowen said.
Bowen said Sinclair Media Watch is partnering with Free Press, a national nonpartisan organization working to increase informed public participation in crucial media policy debates, and to generate policies that will produce a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system with a strong nonprofit and noncommercial sector.
Sinclair Media Watch began organizing in May following Sinclair's decision to censor the April 30 broadcast of ABC's "Nightline" commemorating U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
On May 25, WLOS general manager Les Vann resigned his post, telling his staff that "there comes a time when you know it is time." Sinclair appointed Vann to the general manager's post in 2002.
Sinclair Media Watch will also compile data about the performance of WLOS to submit to the FCC as part of the station's once-every-eight-years license renewal. Broadcasters in the United States are granted monopoly rights over broadcast spectrum at no charge. In return, they are required to "serve the public interest, convenience and necessity," according to FCC regulations.
"Unfortunately, due to the heavy lobbying hand of the National Association of Broadcasters, the FCC has consistently declined to clearly define the 'public interest,'" said Bowen. "The good news is that citizens of all political stripes are waking up to how our public airwaves are being misused, and pressure in Congress for 'media reform' is growing. Sinclair Media Watch is directly linked to the national, non-partisan effort," he said. The deadline for public comment to the FCC on the license-renewal of WLOS is Nov. 1, 2004.
Sinclair Media Watch is sponsored by the WNC-based nonprofit Citizens for Media Literacy.