Joint marketing makes local TV less diverseRep. Robert...

Letters to the Editor

May 06, 1999

Joint marketing makes local TV less diverse

Rep. Robert Ehrlich's April 28 letter, "TV stations' success helps minorities and the community," defending the Local Marketing Agreement (LMA) between Sinclair Broadcasting's WBFF-TV and Glencairn Broadcasting's WNUV-TV, would be laughable were he not in such a position of authority.

Mr. Ehrlich lauds the "additional news outlets" the agreement creates. I don't know what he's been watching, but WNUV and WBFF use the same cast and crew for their news. The result is fewer jobs for broadcast professionals and two newscasts that do not provide different viewpoints or compete against each other.

Wouldn't the community be better served by a WNUV newscast that was independent and competed against WBFF?

Baltimore-area viewers also suffer in the stations' programming. Shows debut on WBFF, and when their ratings decline, they get shifted to WNUV. These shifts benefit Sinclair and Glencairn's bottom lines, not the viewers.

What incentive does WNUV have to put a popular show on against WBFF's "Friends," "Frasier," "Seinfeld" lineup? None. The result is less competitive, less innovative programming for Baltimore viewers.

Where exactly is the "more outreach" generated by this agreement? If you compare the outreach of any two non-LMA stations in Baltimore against that of WNUV and WBFF, you'll see that the LMA means less outreach than that of two stations operating independently.

Two stations with one management means one viewpoint, not two, no matter how Sinclair tries to disguise it.

Carl Birkmeyer, Baltimore

Local TV more competitive than other area enterprises

The Sun's April 27 editorial "Truth in TV labeling" was misleading.

Most station group owners are envious of Mr. Edwards' 100-percent control of Glencairn. Almost no one in broadcasting has complete control of their company.

Nearly all of Sinclair's television local marketing agreements (LMAs), in which one station brokers some of the programming time of another, were approved by the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission.

The editorial omitted a critical fact: The Sun competes with these stations for advertising revenue. It's in The Sun's interest to have a weak WNUV-TV, rather than a vibrant station that can and does compete for advertisers.

Finally, it's ironic that in a city where there is one local phone company, one cable company, one electric company and one major daily newspaper, you criticize an LMA as somehow limiting choices in a six-station television market.

Mark E. Hyman, Baltimore

The writer is director of government relations of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.

Coverage was unfair to broadcast executive

As an African-American in broadcasting, I think your recent reporting on Edwin Edwards and Glencairn Ltd. ("WNUV-TV owner a lightning rod for criticism," April 18) was one-sided at best.

In Mr. Edwards, I see someone who once worked for another but now owns and operates his own business. I see a person with a multi-racial staff that contributes to the tax base.

The Sun suggested Mr. Edwards' role at the station is an illusion. I see a business arrangement that allows two people, one an African-American, to be successful.

You spoke of programming on WNUV-TV dictated by others. I see programs such as "Living Single," " Sister, Sister," "Showtime at The Apollo" and "Motown Live" on that station.

You spoke of Mr. Edwards as a front. I see a successful African-American who may not have fully broken through the glass ceiling but has gotten his head through and is taking a good look around.

Dwight Weems, Baltimore

Opponents of war lack compassion for Kosovars

Conservative columnists George Will, William Safire and Charles Krauthammer keep preaching that we have no excuse to be in Kosovo.

They remind me of a French aristocrat named Rochefoucauld. With slightly more tact than Marie Antoinette he said, "We should only affect compassion. And carefully avoid having any."

W. K. Lester, Severna Park

Herald Harbor and Guilford were sites of exclusion

Your April 28 item, "Last remnant of 1920s utopia up for rezoning" brought back memories of Herald Harbor. I remember the sign to the harbor, in letters at least a foot high: "GENTILES ONLY."

Anne Arundel County was not alone in this discrimination; Baltimore had a "RESTRICTED" sign for its Guilford section.

B. J. Small, Baltimore

More options needed to help the mentally ill

In her April 30 letter, "The Colorado shooting and the Capitol shooting," Jean Walker claimed that "mentally ill adults are confronted with legislation that criminalizes their illness and forcibly commits them to jails and mental institutions."

But in Maryland today, the law will only intervene in mental illness after a person has demonstrated that he is a danger to himself and others. In many cases, this means waiting until the person has committed a violent act.

The only type of commitment available in Maryland is commitment to a state hospital. Outpatient commitment is not an option here.

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