Rhode Island TV station forced to run "pro-Trump programming"

WJAR-TV is a local television station in Rhode Island which was purchased a few years ago by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Since that time, the parent company has been supplying standardized content for all of their nearly 200 American stations to run during daily news segments and that has some of the locals unhappy.

Why? Because the news content in question is being labeled as “pro-Trump” by northeast media critics. And in a state that went for Hillary Clinton by a more than 15 point margin last November, that’s simply unacceptable. (Providence Journal)

The company that owns WJAR-TV is mandating the broadcast of multiple programs favorable to President Donald Trump on the state’s most-watched television station.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, a rapidly growing media company that bought Channel 10 in 2014, produces “must-run” segments and distributes them to its local stations nationwide. They must air during daily news programming, Sinclair executives said.

Sinclair is poised to become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations and, with its recent hire of former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn, viewers can expect to see more of the chain’s political programming.

The practice, which has infused a political flavor into the 68-year-old WJAR’s broadcasts, started quietly there at least a year ago.

So let’s take a look at this “offensive programming” which has the locals up in arms. The Providence Journal spends quite a while offering details of Sinclair Broadcast Group, making them out to be some sort of subversive, conservative conspiracy outfit and then gets down to the three items of “must run” content in question. They are:

  • The Terrorism Alert Desk
  • News pieces from Boris Epshteyn, Sinclair’s chief political analyst
  • A commentary segment from Mark Hyman

The only one of these which I suppose might be blatantly conservative is the Mark Hyman show, Beyond the Headlines, which runs on all of Sinclair’s stations. It’s also clearly labeled as an opinion segment and not portrayed as news. (And given his history, Hyman’s show is more “pro-conservative” than “pro-Trump.”)

But the other two items are supposed to be Trump propaganda? I checked out a few installments of their Terrorism Alert Desk. They’re barely a minute long and contain a round-up of news stories, largely international, providing details of the latest terror attacks taking place around the globe. Here’s one sample you can watch just to get a feel for it.

This is seriously nothing but news being condensed into a rapid, bullet-style format. And given the frequency of terror attacks taking place both at home and abroad, is this something that Rhode Island residents wouldn’t be concerned over? And more to the point, when the segment never even mentions the White House or Donald Trump unless there was an official White House response, how is that “pro-Trump?”

The fact is that WJAR was purchased by a broadcast network. When that happens, the parent company provides certain standardized content across all of their properties. That applies to the major networks and cable properties as well. If they didn’t want Sinclair’s programming running in that market they shouldn’t have sold the station to them.

But hey… it’s one more chance to complain about Trump in a blue state so I suppose all’s fair in love and political warfare, right?