Sinclair’s Mark Hyman Unclear on the Concept of Public Airwaves

Yesterday a coalition of media and activist organizations, including and Media Matters for America, launched a protest campaign against Sinclair Broadcasting. They’re pressuring Sinclair’s advertisers with letters complaining of the TV station owner’s partisan leanings evident in programs like vice president Mark Hyman’s nightly wacko conservative commentary, The Point.

In response, Hyman told Broadcasting and Cable, “As soon as allows me to use their e-mail lists and post to their Web site, maybe then we will have a conversation.”

Of course, what Hyman fails to take into account is that MoveOn doesn’t use public resources for its lists and website (putting aside for the moment the publicly funded US military origins of the Internet), and currently must pay for all of these resources. Whereas the licenses for all of Sinclair’s television spectrum was acquired from the federal government for the low, low price of ZERO dollars.

Even though it is practically toothless and devoid of enforcement, the Telecommunications Act still requires that broadcasters serve “the public interest, convenience, and necessity,” in exchange for that license to mint money. That means that as a television broadcast license holder Sinclair has obligations beyond its narrow self-interest.

Moveon, as a non license holder, has no such obligation.

But, of course, would we expect anything less of Hyman, a television commentarist and “journalist” who is also a naval “intelligence” officer, who still holds a reserve assignment? Why shouldn’t he exploit publicly provided resource to promote exclusively the policies of the ruling administration and excoriate its opponents? It’s clear that Hyman sees little separation between media and government, provided that each fully promotes the other’s interest.