Threatened with a shareholder revolt, and facing the loss of advertiser dollars and a viewer boycott, Sinclair Broadcast Group has dropped its plan to air the anti-Kerry documentary 'Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal.'
Sinclair had been feeling the heat from all angles since ordering its 62 stations nationwide last week to preempt their regular programming and run a commercial-free 'documentary' criticizing Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's anti-war activities during the Vietnam War.
After word got out that Sinclair was forcing its 62 stations to air 'Stolen Honor' this week, advertisers quickly began pulling their ads from Sinclair owned stations including Portland, Maine; Madison, Wisconsin; and in Springfield and Minneapolis, Illinois.
Web logs and public-interest groups had called for boycotts and threatened to challenge Sinclair's FCC licenses. Groups such as Common Cause, the Alliance for Better Campaigns; Media Access Project; Media for Democracy and the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ have been compiling a database listing of other advertisers on Sinclair-owned stations in hopes to try and persuade them to reconsider their commercials on the company's stations.
Since Sinclair's decision to air Stolen Honor became public in early October, the company's stock has fallen nearly 13 percent, as of the close of the market on October 18, wiping out nearly $90 million in shareholder value, Media Matters for America reported.
This caused shareholders to put their own pressure on Sinclair.
Media Matters For America reported yesterday that Glickenhaus & Co., a Wall Street investment firm holding 6,100 shares of Sinclair stock, took action against Sinclair on behalf of its clients by firing off a letter to Sinclair's CEO and directors, demanding that they immediately 'provide those with views opposed to the allegations in the film an equal opportunity to respond.'
'We are not partisan. We are investors,' General partner Jim Glickenhaus told MMFA. 'Sinclair's decision has caused harm to the value of our investment in Sinclair. We believe Sinclair must give equal time to an opposing point of view. Otherwise the company is placing its future and the value of our investment in jeopardy, by putting the renewal of its FCC licenses at risk, alienating local advertisers, and opening itself up to libel suits against the company.'
The letter (underwritten by MMFA) ended stating that if an answer to the demands were not received by close of business Tuesday October 19, they 'will immediately seek the remedies available to shareholders in such situations.'
Additional remedies, including a court injunction prior to the first scheduled airing of 'Stolen Honor', could also be sought.
At approximately 4 p.m. yesterday, Sinclair representatives faxed Glickenhaus a statement declaring that they will not be airing 'Stolen Honor' in its entirety, but will instead air
'A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media.'
In a statement Sinclair says that this 'news special' will examine the 'role of the media in filtering the information contained in these documentaries, allegations of media bias by media organizations that ignore or filter legitimate news and the attempts by candidates and other organizations to influence media coverage.'
'Stolen Honor' will not be shown in its entirety, but clips from it will be shown during the program.
The program will not air over several days, as was originally planned for 'Stolen Honor,' but will air just once on Friday, Oct. 23, and on only 40 of the company's 62 stations -- this includes many stations in key swing states for the presidential election.