BALTIMORE, Oct. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. ("Sinclair" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: SBGI) commented today on a recent anti-consolidation "report" by the so-called "public interest" group, Free Press, that misrepresents not only the completely legal actions by numerous broadcast companies, but also the impact of such structures on news coverage in local markets. Such statements are particularly egregious given that Sinclair reached out to Craig Aaron, the President and CEO of Free Press, earlier this year to provide facts completely contrary to the statements in Free Press' Report and offered to discuss the issues further with Mr. Aaron. Sinclair received no response whatsoever to the letter sent to Mr. Aaron, a copy of which is attached to this press release, indicating that Free Press does not wish to have the facts interfere with its political agenda.
Despite the actions of broadcasters in providing services to television stations they do not own being completely legal, publicly disclosed and fully considered and approved by the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC"), Free Press outrageously claims broadcasters are engaging in "covert" arrangements, using "loopholes" and acting "in direct violation of the law." In addition, despite specific evidence to the contrary, Free Press claims that, "[t]his wave [of acquisitions] is leaving in its wake shuttered newsrooms and jobless journalists in communities all across the country" resulting in "the devastation of community-centered journalism." Such inaccurate, irresponsible and potentially defamatory comments made by a group that declined a direct offer from Sinclair to become better informed, demonstrates the bias and complete lack of credibility of Free Press, which should be taken into account when considering all past and future comments the group makes.David Smith, President and CEO of Sinclair, commented, "To set the record straight, every transaction we have entered into completely complies with the law and the regulations of the FCC and where required, as was true in most cases, were approved by the FCC after full disclosure of each aspect of our transactions. While we respect the right of Free Press to express its opinion on the advisability of the FCC's rules, we vehemently object to their misguided and offensive claims that broadcasters who simply follow the FCC's rules are using "shell companies" and "shady tactics" to "dodge" FCC rules. "Moreover, contrary to the apparently intentionally uninformed views expressed by Free Press, there is no question on the positive contributions and the substantial investments we have made in the local markets we operate, especially in the newsrooms. In the past 18 months alone, we have added a net 77 positions across our organization, of which 72 were news related. Many of the stations we purchased were dressed for sale, emerging from bankruptcy or under invested by their prior owners. We have fully staffed those stations, as well as made significant investments in capital upgrades, programming and promotion.