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In-Depth Interview: Cliff Schecter Shares His Experience as Token Liberal on Sinclair TV Stations

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Cliff Schecter is a progressive media commentator who once worked for Sinclair, the right-wing chain of local TV stations, and he returns to talk about the dangers of concentration of media ownership in a mostly-deregulated industry.Schecter is the author of The Real McCain, and co-hosts the podcast UnPresidented.  His NY Times op-ed about Sinclair is here.

He was hired at Sinclair in 2004, and offers an insider view of a low-budget operation that orders its local stations to “must carry” right-wing commentaries by former Trump appointee Boris Epshteyn and a frequent “Terrorism Alert Desk” feature.  HBO’s John Oliver and Deadspin exposed this week how Sinclair ordered all of its news anchors to record a message slamming fake news and touting Sinclair as a credible news outlet.

This controversy may add fuel to efforts to get the Federal Communications Commission to deny approval to the proposed acquisition of Tribune’s TV stations to Sinclair, which clearly violates even the weakened FCC rules about station ownership limits.  If the deal is approved, Sinclair will have coverage of 72% of US households.

We make the case for enforcement of the terms of the 1934 Communications Act, which requires station owners to operate in the “public interest, convenience and necessity” and your humble host reveals his attempt to block FCC renewal of a radio station license in Cincinnati when he was 13.  We also talk about the Fairness Doctrine, which was good in principle but difficult to work under.