Editorial: Smith wrong

Jan 14, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Sinclair Broadcasting President and CEO David Smith is clearly an innovative thinker, as evidenced in Electronic Media’s interview with him in the Dec. 31 issue, and we applaud his bravado.
But we think he’s wrong on two subjects.
First, when talking about news and why some Sinclair stations have dropped newscasts, he cites his responsibilities to shareholders, of which he is Sinclair’s largest. Yes, of course the bottom line is important. But Mr. Smith did not mention his responsibility to the public. After all, Sinclair is broadcasting over the airwaves. And paramount to that responsibility is news broadcasts.
Mr. Smith also wants to redistribute the money subscribers pay cable operators. Since most viewing is on broadcast stations, Mr. Smith says broadcasters deserve to get a bigger share of the pie. While we don’t doubt that-and other broadcasters would like to see that money-we don’t agree with his idea that perhaps some government body should dictate a fee structure mandating this change.
Mr. Smith’s argument sounds like sour grapes; he’s unhappy that cable, and not broadcasters, came up with the dual-revenue-stream business model.