Sinclair Broadcast Group CEO Chris Ripley said local television will survive the rise of the internet if it can find new ways to modernize its delivery and change broadcasting regulation.
“Local television isn’t being squeezed out by online outlets,” Ripley told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Local news serves a niche that social media doesn’t. In fact we continue to invest in our online presence. News consumers trust local television more than any other source. When it comes to delivering the kinds of local information that our viewers care about, we really are the go-to source.”
Sinclair is the largest television station operator in the United States, with more than 9,000 employees in 81 markets across the country. The company was the center of controversy after multiple anchors read an on-air statement about the danger of spreading false news. Certain media pundits saw this as a partisan expression of a pro-Trump agenda, while others defended the media conglomerate for simply pointing out the facts. Ripley said the current atmosphere of division is to be expected. (RELATED: Stand With Sinclair Broadcasting)
“I think most would agree that President Trump is an unorthodox President,” Ripley said in the email. “He has upset the status quo and that has caused consternation within Congress, within the DC lobby groups, within government bureaucracies and within the national media who cover Washington. Trump frequently goes on the attack—against all of these institutions. That’s part of the reason why he has a big following in some parts of America and why many in DC and NY are more critical, including the press.”
Ripley also admitted the world of media is changing and said Sinclair needs to adapt and think outside the box if it wishes to stay competitive.
“The media landscape is changing rapidly,” he added. “Local television needs to compete with other media outlets that re 10,20, 30 times our size. So to be competitive, our industry can’t stay fragmented by antiquated rules. That is why we and many other broadcast groups believe that the future of local television depends on modernizing broadcasting regulation.”
Ripley said Sinclair stresses objectivity and expects its journalists to leave their personal opinions at the door when they come in to report the news.
“Journalists are trained to be as objective as possible, to address all sides of an issue, so that viewers have all the facts. Our policy is that all journalists need to leave their personal, political bias at the door,” Ripley told TheDCNF. “Our newsrooms just won 45 regional Edward R. Murrow awards for our local reporting, the highest honor in the industry, which proves that our peers recognize our excellent local reporting.”
Many networks must also deal with the problem of balancing entertainment programming with news coverage, but Ripley said they can work together in sync to help deliver premium content to the viewers.
“We don’t see these as competing. Entertainment and news have happily coexisted since the beginning of television,” he said. “We acquire entertainment programming from networks and syndicators that our viewers value, then we enhance that with quality local news. Regardless of whatever entertainment programming we carry, we compete fiercely for viewership of our newscasts.”
Ripley reiterated the importance of local news in a free society and said it remains the bedrock of Sinclair.
“Local news is the foundation of Sinclair Broadcast Group. We are a company with 73 news operations with one unifying purpose: a steadfast dedication to finding the truth,” Ripley concluded. “Our goal is to win breaking news on all platforms and provide a daily point of difference with a focus of alerting, protecting, and empowering our audience. That’s our daily commitment. We live it and breathe it — each and every day.”
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