Skip to comments.Kerry Demands Sinclair Stop This Film
Posted on 10/15/2004 6:23:43 PM PDT by Anduril1
Kerry Demands Sinclair Stop Film or Give Equal Time
An angry and worried John Kerry claims Sinclair Broadcasting will violate federal broadcasting rules if it shows the documentary "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal."
In a letter released Friday the Kerry campaign made clear it wants to stop the film from being broadcast on television.
If it does air the documentary, Kerry is demanding the station group give his campaign equal time.
The Kerry letter comes on the heels of the FCC's announcement Thursday they would not accede to the request of Democratic senators who demanded the commission stop the airing of the film.
Sinclair says it still plans to broadcast the controversial documentary.
Previously, Mark Hyman, vice president of Sinclair, has stated the network has offered air time to Senator Kerry and allow him participate in their programming.
The letter from the Kerry campaign to Sinclair follows:
October 15, 2004
David D. Smith President and CEO Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. 10706 Beaver Dam Road Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030
Re: "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal"
Dear Mr. Smith:
I am writing on behalf of Senator John Kerry and Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc. Press reports indicate that the stations operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group plan to air a program entitled "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" later this month. See, e.g., Howard Kurtz & Frank Ahrens, Family's TV Clout in Bush's Corner, THE WASHINGTON POST, Oct. 12, 2004, at A1; Elizabeth Jensen, Conservative TV Group to Air Anti-Kerry Film, LOS ANGELES TIMES, Oct. 9, 2004, at A1. This program constitutes an attack on Senator Kerry by supporters of President Bush. It was not produced by Sinclair, nor by any reputable journalistic organization. It is our understanding that Sinclair plans to air this program during hours when entertainment programming is normally provided on its stations.
The legality of Sinclair's attempt to broadcast this program has already been called into serious legal question. The Democratic National Committee recently filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission pointing out that Sinclair's airing of the program constitutes an illegal corporate-funded "electioneering communication." As the DNC correctly notes, the broadcast does not qualify for the exemption afforded to news stories under federal campaign finance law and thus would constitute an illegal corporate expenditure.
Under the Federal Communications Commission's decision in Nicholas Zapple, 23 F.C.C.2d 707 (1970), a broadcasting station that permits supporters of a candidate to use its facilities to advance that candidate's campaign must provide supporters of the opposing candidate "quasi-equal opportunities." Despite the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, the FCC has made clear that stations' Zapple obligations continue in effect. See RTNDA v. FCC, 184 F.3d 872, 884 n.10 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (recognizing that the Zapple Doctrine complements Section 315(a) of the Communications Act); The Handling of Public Issues Under the Fairness Doctrine and the Public Interest Standards, 48 F.C.C.2d 1, 31 (1974); 36 F.C.C.2d 40, 47-49 (1972).
Sinclair's planned airing of this documentary produced by opponents of Senator Kerry is precisely the kind of use of a broadcasting station to advance one campaign that the Zapple Doctrine was intended to address. The documentary is clearly intended to advance the campaign of President Bush by attacking Senator Kerry's record.
The program does not meet any of the requirements for the exemptions from the equal opportunities requirement. See Request for Declaratory Ruling that Independently Produced Bona Fide News Interview Programs Qualify for the Equal Opportunities Exemption, 7 F.C.C.R. 4,681 (1992). It is not regularly scheduled on Sinclair's stations and will not be shown when news programming is regularly aired. The content of the program will not be controlled by Sinclair or an independent journalistic organization. The program instead is intended to be an attack on Senator Kerry and thus is not the result of decisions made on the basis of newsworthiness rather than to advance or retard a particular candidate. Id. Thus, the program cannot qualify as either a bona fide news program or news interview.
It also cannot be viewed as an exempt documentary. As the FCC has made clear, "that exemption explicitly applies only if the appearance of the candidate is 'incidental to the presentation of the subject or subjects covered by the news documentary.'" Request of A&E Television Networks for Declaratory Ruling, 15 F.C.C.R. 10,796 (2000). The subject of the proposed program is Senator Kerry's activities in connection with the Vietnam War and his appearance is, therefore, central, rather than incidental, to the program.
Section 315(a) of the Communications Act was intended to prevent the licensee of a broadcasting station using the public airwaves to use that facility to promote one candidate for public office over another. The FCC in Zapple recognized that Congress's intent could be frustrated by stations that aired programs featuring supporters of one candidate instead of the candidate himself or herself. See RTNDA, 184 F.3d at 884 n.10. If Sinclair does air this program in which supporters of President Bush attack Senator Kerry, it must provide a similar opportunity for Senator Kerry's supporters.
Please consider this a request that each Sinclair station that airs the documentary provide supporters of the Kerry-Edwards campaign with a similar amount of time on that station before the election at a time where an audience of similar size can be expected to be viewing the station. Please contact me or have a representative of each station do so in order to schedule an appearance by supporters of Senator Kerry.
Very truly yours,
Marc E. Elias General Counsel, Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc.
How do I found out when and where this is showing?
Sign the 180 first!
Give Kerry equal time and you have to give Bush equal time, too, since Kerry is the "star" of the documentary.
moore good news!
Moore's Pre-Election TV Special Nixed
NEW YORK - The cable pay-per-view company iN DEMAND has backed away from a plan to show a three-hour election eve special with filmmaker Michael Moore that included the first television showing of his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11."
LOL good point. I like the way you think
You can buy it here!
I try not to watch shows on Kerry due to the high cost of replacing televisions. I wasn't going to watch it but with Kerry and Company basically having a meltdown over it I may risk it. I hope the hype doesn't exceed the actual footage.
What could Kerry possibly be afraid of ??? *wink*
Am I missing something, or did the Kerry campaign TURN DOWN Sinclair's offer of equal time.
I guess they didn't like the idea of having equal time before they liked it.
if Kerry really wanted to stop it, he could strap a bomb to
himself and run into HQ,
then just claim it was something he learned from the VC.
Great Idea...A two-fer ON sKERRY :))
Shut up and sign form 180. We're the hiring committee and you're the applicant.
Kerry should be given equal time but only if Mark Hyman gets to ask the questions. Kerry must answer the charges not attack them.
Kerry could be given equal time to answer the points brought up in the film... but he should not send one of his hencemen or hencewomen to do his dirty work..
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