Tag Archives: FCC

Is Reno’s NBC Affiliate Moving Back to the Middle?

Image by Paul Kiser

KRNV reconnecting with the rest of the community?

Something happened at KRNV, Reno’s NBC affiliate, on April 8. It was not what they did, but what they didn’t do. Tuesday’s 6 PM newscast of the Sinclair Broadcast Group‘s (SBGI) station didn’t run an anti-government story.

It’s possible it they were just having an off day. It’s possible that NBC has applied pressure to the station to not run Fox News-type stories. It’s possible that the station’s staff has had enough of sacrificing personal reputations for the conservative agenda of their parent organization. It’s possible the parent organization has had an epiphany regarding serving all viewers, not just conservatives. Who knows? Regardless, it was a refreshing change.

The station did run a Sinclair produced story in the ‘A’ Block, but rather than presenting an overt bias, Kai Jackson, a former news anchor on Baltimore’s CBS affiliate WJZ, offered a story about the cost of extending unemployment benefits. Jackson, who joined Sinclair in December 2013, pointed out that $500 billion have been spent on unemployment benefits since 2008, which is an issue that connects with the conservative viewer. He then he offered the viewpoint of a small business person who says that the money has a positive impact on his revenue as it flows into America’s economy.

Image by Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun

Kai Jackson at the desk of WJZ CBS Baltimore

One could argue that the issue itself is more of a concern by Republicans, but that is not accurate. Democrats and liberals understand that unemployment benefits are not a long-term solution; however, the money paid out to the unemployed is not lost. It flows through the economy, which is also important. Jackson presentation of the issues was fair and educated conservatives and liberals on the complexity of the problem.

What Jackson didn’t do was line up a long list of rabid conservative ‘experts’ to manipulate the story, nor did he indicate his personal spin on the issue.

Giving the Viewer What They Want or What They Need?
A news team can either manipulate news to invoke an emotional response, or they can work to educate the viewer on  the issues of the day and let the viewer decide how they feel about those topics. In the case of the former the news is sexy and entertaining. In the latter case the news is less emotional and requires more intelligent thought.

The excuse that Fox News-type reporting is just giving the viewer what he or she wants is same rationale of a drug dealer or prostitute. Reporting news should not be an attempt to manipulate emotions. News shouldn’t be anti-government, nor should it be pro-government. This does not mean that news has to be neutral, just that it can’t be driven by a political agenda.

The conservative and liberal views in the United States are both essential to our prosperity. Both viewpoints tend to carve out policies that succeed. A perfect example is the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) It was the health care reform proposed by the Heritage Foundation decades before it became law under President Obama’s administration. Despite Fox News stories that are trying to paint ACA as a disaster, the facts indicate that the number of uninsured people has dropped significantly and the program is actually succeeding.

A local television news organization is not a blog. It operates under the rules created by the FCC to protect the public trust. For whatever reason, yesterday KRNV rose to the expectations of that public trust.

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Local TV Affiliate News Reputation Displaced With Conservative Propaganda Makeover

SBGI LogoSinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI) and related companies have been buying up local non-Fox affiliated stations and pushing conservative biased news stories into the local news programs.

Graphic thanks to NASDAQ

Sinclair stock hit its high at the beginning of 2014, but has been sliding downward for the last three months (from NASDAQ website)

Since September of 2011, Sinclair Broadcast Group or their affiliated companies (Cunningham Broadcasting, Deerfield Media) have acquired or obtained a Local Marketing Agreement (LMA) for almost one hundred local television stations. According to its website, Sinclair now operates or owns 29 ABC, 26 CBS, and 17 NBC local affiliated stations in addition to 41 Fox and 54 other affiliated stations.

Fox News Masquerading As Reputable Journalism
By snatching up ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates, Sinclair masks itself under the traditions of reputable journalism of the three historic broadcast giants. The public trust of news anchors built over decades is used to distract viewers from news stories slanted to provoke outrage at the United States government and policies opposed by conservatives. News stories for Sinclair stations are manufactured by the parent organization and inserted into the local news. The stories employ interviews with conservative sources, often with no interview with the  agency or organization being accused of fraud, waste, or corruption.

In Reno, Nevada, the NBC affiliate, KRNV, has run stories on almost a daily basis from the parent organization that suggested and/or accuse waste or government conspiracy. In some cases, clips from Fox News are used, rather than from the NBC parent organization. Recently KRNV 6 PM broadcast ran ‘A’ Block stories (headline news) regarding the Affordable Care Act (e.g.; March 26, April 1) and gun laws (e.g.; March 28) that used people with a known conservative bias as their sources.

The LMA Loophole
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules do not allow licensing of more than one television station in a market to a person or company; however, during the first George Bush administration (1991) Sinclair Broadcast Group convinced the FCC to allow Local Marketing Agreements (LMA’s) that would allow a person or company to own one station and “operate” another station providing the latter station was licensed to a different person or corporation.

This has allowed Sinclair to go on a buying binge of television stations in the same market as their Fox stations. Sinclair uses Deerfield Media and Cunningham Broadcasting to own the licenses of stations where Sinclair already owns a television license. All Deerfield and Cunningham licensed stations are operated by Sinclair, and the family that owns Sinclair controls 90% of the stock in Cunningham Broadcasting.

In Reno, Nevada, the Sinclair Broadcast Group owns the license for Fox affiliate, KRXI, and operates the MyNetworkTV affiliate, KAME (licensed to Deerfield Media,) as well as the NBC affiliate, KRNV (recently licensed to Cunningham Broadcasting.)

This allows Sinclair to effectively control three stations in one market and supplant  reputable journalism with conservative propaganda.

The Lingering Question
There is ample evidence that Sinclair Broadcast Group is using loopholes in the FCC regulations to control multiple stations in a single market. It is also apparent that news stories manufactured by Sinclair are shoddy and biased. The question is whether or not the people behind Sinclair are trying to pander to conservatives in order to increase profits or if they are perverting journalism for a conservative agenda. In one case it is a matter of greed, in the other, a matter of a betrayal to the American citizen.

An audit of all of the communications, finances and contributions of the companies, vendors, Board of Directors, and owners involved is the only way we will know.

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FAA + Airlines + Personal Electronic Devices = Public Mistrust

by Paul Kiser
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Paul Kiser

Recently, a 73 year-old man flying from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Winnipeg, Canada was ordered by the flight crew of an unnamed airline to stop using his Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) device during the flight. The GPS device tracks the user’s current position by receiving (not transmitting) a signal from orbiting satellites. Currently over half the world’s airlines allow it to be used during a flight, but not this airline. The man was arrested and fined for not obeying the flight crew instructions to turn it off and also refusing to buckle his seat belt. Not surprisingly his last name was, Ego…I’m not making this up…his name was Michele Ego (See article in Winnipeg Free Press.)

…the incident was based on the Flight Attendant enforcing an 18 year-old policy of restricting the use of  personal electronic devices (PED’s) that has little or no real experimental data to justify it…

Are these really a threat to airline safety?

Clearly Mr. Ego was in the wrong by refusing to obey the instructions of the flight crew; however, the incident was caused by a flight crew enforcing an 18 year-old policy of restricting the use of personal electronic devices (PED’s) that has little or no experimental data to justify it. The zeal of some flight attendants in following this baseless policy creates a source of conflict and mistrust between the flying public and the flight crew, all of which could be avoided, if not for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the airlines.

…the policy uses decades old research that could only pose a theoretical threat by PED’s, without any experimental proof…

The lack of evidence for the restrictions on PED’s (such as MP3-4 players, GPS, cell phones, etc.) is well-known, and yet, airlines stick to a policy of restricting them, especially during takeoffs and landings because of the FAA’s order issued in 1993, that each airline must prove a PED will not interfere with the plane’s avionics before passengers are allowed to use them during a flight. The reasoning for the policy uses decades old research that concluded that PED’s pose a theoretical threat.

During a Congressional Hearing on the issue in July of 2000, over a year before the first generation of Apple’s iPod was sold, the issue of PED’s impact on a plane’s avionics was discussed. During the hearing a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) database of anonymously submitted in flight incidents was presented. Of 69,000 reports, 52 flight crews blamed passenger PED’s for the plane’s avionics problems. In most of the cases from 1992 to 1998, incidents on planes as small as a Cessna and large as a Boeing 757, related problems in navigational readings that seemed to be corrected when passengers were asked to turn off the devices.

…In each case the problem could not be duplicated under controlled test conditions…

In several of those cases, the alleged offending PED was purchased from the passenger and attempts were made to reproduce the problem. In each case the problem could not be duplicated under controlled test conditions. These results were fortified by two commissioned studies of PED’s, including cell phones, in 1983-8, (a study for the airlines,) and 1992-6, (a study for Congress.) Both studies offered no real evidence of avionics interference caused by PED’s.

(See Blog article: Why Your iPad Won’t Kill You)

Regardless of the lack of evidence, neither study could prove that PED’s were absolutely incapable of interference, and in a British study on cell phone transmissions, it was determined that the threat from PED’s was from pre-1984 devices that could theoretically cause interference with a plane’s avionics. Despite a lack of real evidence of a threat, the FAA issued its 1993 ruling that said that airlines should restrict the use of all PED’s below 10,000 feet (for takeoffs and landings) and only allow use of PED’s above 10,000 feet if they could prove it didn’t interfere with the plane’s avionics.

The fact is that today’s commercial airliner has been designed with shielding on all electronic systems to protect it against all types of electromagnetic radiation, including a strike from a lightening bolt, which seems far more likely to happen than an incident of electromagnetic interference caused by a PED like an iPod, GPS device, or cell phone*.

(*Interestingly, it was not the FAA, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who issued a rule in 1991, that cell phones could not be used by any aircraft –including private planes and lighter-than-air balloons– because of the fear that phones in a line of sight of multiple cell phone towers could cause problems with ground-based cell phone traffic.)

With the airlines blessing, both the FAA and FCC have created an environment that forces flight attendants to be the voice of ‘Chicken Little’, by enforcing flight rules governing PED’s that make no sense in 2011. The ineptness of the FAA and the airlines in their handling of the issue of PED’s undermines the relationship of trust that passengers must have in the flight crew if they are to be believed and obeyed during critical situations involving a real threat to passenger safety.

The question that remains is whether or not the mythological threat of PED’s to aircraft safety is greater than the loss of trust of the flying public.

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