Move Sparked by Threat of Shareholder Lawsuit Underwritten by Media Matters for America
(Washington, DC, October 19, 2004) -- At approximately 3:45 p.m. (EDT) on October 19, a representative of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. called Mr. Jim Glickenhaus, a general partner in the Wall Street investment firm Glickenhaus & Co., to state that a response was forthcoming to a demand letter submitted earlier in the day by Glickenhaus, whose firm holds 6,100 shares of Sinclair stock. The demand letter, underwritten by Media Matters for America (MMFA), threatened legal action if Sinclair aired the anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal on all 62 of its stations reaching up to 25 percent of U.S. TV households.
At approximately 4 p.m., Sinclair representatives faxed Glickenhaus a statement declaring that Sinclair Broadcast Group will not be airing Stolen Honor in its entirety, but will instead air a "news special" to be "produced with the highest journalistic standards and integrity."
Both Glickenhaus and MMFA agree that Sinclair's decision satisfies the basic request in Glickenhaus's demand letter. In his letter, Glickenhaus demanded that Sinclair either not broadcast Stolen Honor or "provide those with views opposed to the allegations in the film an equal opportunity to respond."
"Sinclair has finally acknowledged that its decision to air Stolen Honor was untenable," explained MMFA President and CEO David Brock. "Backing away from its original decision reflects the power of both the marketplace, which has severely punished Sinclair for its actions; the grassroots actions that have put pressure on Sinclair for the past two weeks; and the serious threat of litigation on the part of shareholders that have been grievously damaged by the precipitous drop in Sinclair stock since the company first announced its intentions."
Glickenhaus immediately faxed an acknowledgment to Sinclair CEO David D. Smith in which he stated:
"We trust from the press release that Sinclair will ensure that the program is fair, balanced, and provides a meaningful opportunity for participation by those with opposing points of view, regardless of whether they may be part of any particular campaign. We will be watching the events unfold over the next three days to confirm that Sinclair stays on the course it described in its response to me and presents a fair and impartial program."
Sinclair's stock has fallen 17 percent, costing shareholders $105 million, since Sinclair's decision to air Stolen Honor in its entirety first became public.
Although Sinclair altered its programming content, both Glickenhaus and MMFA fully intend to closely monitor Sinclair's new program, titled A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media. Should the program fall outside the boundaries of fairness and impartiality outlined in the demand letter, legal action may resume. The legal work for this successful action was undertaken by Dan Johnson and Tom Wardell, of the Washington DC-based firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.