Sinclair adds commentary to ad critical of its media bias promos

Sinclair Broadcast Group included its own commentary with an ad critical of its scripted "false news" promos that aired Sunday morning.

Allied Progress, a liberal consumer watchdog group, purchased air time on four Sinclair-owned stations to run ads opposing the company's proposed merger with Tribune Media. 

"What happens when your local news isn’t local? This,” the ad states, followed by a viral clip of Sinclair anchors reading the same promo warning viewers of media bias. 

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The ad then urges viewers to contact the Federal Communications Commission to voice opposition to Sinclair’s plans to acquire numerous other local news affiliates currently owned by Tribune Media, noting that Sinclair could gain ownership of news stations in nearly three-quarters of American homes.

The commercial was prefaced with a voiceover that said the Sinclair station agreed to air it because the broadcasting company supports sharing both sides of an issue.

After the ad concluded, a voiceover labeled it “misleading” and said it ignored “thousands of hours” of local news coverage. It also said the group behind the ad has a “liberal bias.”

The ad aired just before 9 a.m. on WJLA in Washington, D.C., which is the region’s ABC affiliate.

Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, said in a statement Sinclair did not notify the group of its plans to bookend the ad with commentary. He argued the commentary admits Sinclair pushes a partisan agenda.

Sinclair has been in the spotlight after Deadspin compiled clips of network anchors across the country reading the same statement in which they say that they are “concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country."

The promos also warn of an "extremely dangerous" threat to democracy.

Critics have slammed the segment, saying it disparages media.

Sinclair officials have defended the promo, saying it shows no bias and slamming print media as "left wing" and "meaningless."

--This story was updated on April 8, 2018, at 1:49 p.m.