Sunday, August 21, 2005

WRLH-TV Richmond Ignoring Public Interest

Letter to FCC commissioners, Anchorwoman Diane Walker, et al.


I write with great concern regarding a dialogue exchange between a representative of Fox35/NBC12 in Richmond VA. My concern is the serious dereliction of public interest and accountability in providing news information that the public has expressed interest in. The response from the Sinclair representative Diane Walker seems to be - we only provide certain "news" stories that we want to provide.
I am including the query and response for your discernment. This failure to be accountable to the public is a serious issue for a broadcast licensee such as Sinclair - I hope you will take immediate action to suspend or revoke WRLH-TV's license - In any event, I respectfully ask this complaint be included in the file for WRLH-TV and for WWBT-TV NBC12 - although I'm not sure how Ms. Walker works for both as NBC12 claims to be owned by Jefferson Pilot Corporation while WRLH is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting - any explanation on this "news share" would be useful in determining public accountability. I have included information from the WRLH website below the e-mail exchange. I would ask that you evaluate the substance of Diane Walker's response in light of the claims made by their website. I look forward to your reply.

copy of e-mail exchange:

From: April Kung [] Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2005 2:01 PM To:; Diane Walker; Curt Autry Subject: Fox News Richmond

Ever since moving to Richmond several years ago I have made the occasional unfortunate mistake of wasting an evening watching Fox News at 10. Each time I find myself equally disgusted by the nonsense that your network parades as "news."

Material concerning Madonna's fall from a horse, Dick Clark's plans for next New Year's eve, the fact that P Diddy is shortening his name to just plain "Diddy," a boat made entirely from popsicle sticks, people getting married at fast-food drive-throughs... What purpose do any of these stories serve that, in any way, justifies them as news?

And how do you justify your status as a news program in an alleged democracy while wasting valuable air-time on such irrelevant and inane drivel while serious issues that affect the lives of Americans go unmentioned and unquestioned?

What does it matter that administrators of a local elementary school altered SOL test answers if news programs such as yours do nothing to foster the development of, and inform, an educated and critical thinking audience?

What of the new energy bill and its impact on the people of this country and the world? Who benefits from these new policies and who loses? Why? What do the opponents and proponents of the bill have to say about it and what the long term ramifications might be?

Ten seconds on the Israeli pull-out of the Gaza Strip certainly left no time for any discussion on the position of the PA, nor on questions such as Israeli policy and activities on the West Bank.

What light can possibly be shed on Britain's anti-terrorism proposals, or the potential privatization of India's water, or carcinogenic rBGH in the nation's milk supply, or any number of ongoing worldwide and national conundrums while you clowns are blathering about the latest shade of lipstick, the length of Britany Spear's toenails or whatever new absurdity your team has planned to wow us hapless viewers with next?

As professionals in the field of journalism, every person on staff at Fox news should be deeply ashamed of themselves for their complicity in allowing the standards of news reporting in America to sink to this level.
Sincerely, April Kung wrote: April,

I'd love to have you as a regular viewer, however, it appears your mind is already made up. This is a democracy and you are free to choose where you get your news.
I hope you continue to "occasionally watch us.

Diane Walker News Anchor Reporter, Fox 35, NBC12
5710 Midlothian Turnpike Richmond, Va. 23225 (804) 230-2620

WRLH-TV Richmond, VA is owned and operated by Sinclair - an excerpt from their website:"Sinclair continues to believe each of our stations is an important aspect of the communities in which they are located... Our news teams continue to win numerous awards for raising community awareness..."
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. currently owns and operates, or programs, 62 television stations in 40 markets. Sinclair's television group includes FOX, WB, ABC, CBS, NBC, and UPN affiliates and reaches approximately 25.0% of all U.S. television households.

If Diane Walker's response is sincere, how could she love to have April Kung as a regular viewer if WRLH does not report the news Ms. Kung is seeking to learn? Furthermore and most important - Walker asserts Kung is "free to choose where you get your news," but this isn't much consolation when Sinclair owns WB, ABC, CBS, NBC, and UPN affiliates. I hope you understand my point. The enormous market advantage enjoyed by Sinclair means that they must be held to a very high standard of public interest - to ignore complaints and direct viewers to get their news elsewhere is unacceptable behavior. This is precisely the reason why these two licensees should be suspended immediately. I lived in Charlottesville, VA for seven years and can attest to the meaningless FOX reporting described by Kung.Thank you for your prompt attention in this matter.


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