Sinclair’s Smith: Ownership Cap ‘Kind of Ridiculous’

Broadcast CEO seeks to mobilize political movement at grass roots level
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David Smith, Sinclair Broadcast Group president and CEO, voiced his interest in mobilizing broadcasters to petition elected officials to support their hopes for a change in ownership limits.

Smith called the 39% U.S. households cap “kind of ridiculous.” People receive content from the phone company, cable and broadcast, he said, yet only broadcast is subject to stiff restrictions. “The reality is, the phone company reaches 100%, the satellite guys reach 100% and the cable guys do whatever they want to do, and broadcasters are constrained,” said Smith.
“We think it’s completely lopsided in terms of the ownership cap.”

Smith’s comments took place during Sinclair’s first quarter earnings call May 7. Smith urged broadcasters to use their local democracies to make change.

“It starts right at the grass roots level in their marketplace—local politicians, mayors, delegates, on up to governors,” he said. “[Tell them], if local broadcast is relevant to your community, you better be prepared to become involved to make sure we are here. Otherwise, we may cease to exist 10 years from now.”

The local politicians, Smith believes, see considerable value in the services local broadcast provides. “I think we have a very good chance to get Congress moving in the right direction,” he said, “to basically set us free, allow us to go compete.”

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