WASHINGTON — Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/Push coalition has filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission charging that Sinclair Broadcasting is using another corporation as a front to evade local ownership caps.
Rainbow/Push is challenging the sale of Sullivan Broadcasting’s KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City to Glencairn Ltd. Rainbow claims that Glencairn is a front for the Baltimore-based Smith family, which controls Sinclair.
“The relationship between Sinclair and Glencairn does not appear to be arms-length; for example, Sinclair seems to be purchasing KOKH-TV and then giving it to Glencairn for zero consideration,” writes Rainbow in its FCC filing.
Sinclair Broadcasting referred calls to its D.C. lawyer, Martin Leader. Leader did not respond to calls.
Rainbow claims that the KOKH-TV sale is one of four pending transactions in which Glencairn would own stations that would be managed by Sinclair. In each case, Glencairn would own stations in markets where Sinclair already owns a station, according to Rainbow.
In its complaint, Rainbow says that Glencairn appears to be nothing more than a shell to evade local rules that ban broadcasters from owning two stations in a single market. “Glencairn’s only business appears to be holding bare FCC licenses so that Sinclair can (manage) the licensed stations,” writes Rainbow.
Broadcasters including Pulitzer, Post-Newsweek and First Media have also raised questions about the relationship between Glencairn and Sinclair at the FCC but have failed to make any headway.
But the Rainbow petition focuses on Glencairn’s president, Edwin Andrews, who is black and a former employee of Sinclair. In its complaint, Rainbow asks the FCC to determine “What duties, specifically, does Andrews perform on a day to day basis for Sinclair and Glencairn?” The complaint also asks how frequently Andrews visits the Glencairn stations and what programming he is responsible for.
“No disrespect to Andrews is intended as we raise these questions,” writes Rainbow. “If he is a real broadcaster, he will ultimately welcome this scrutiny, which can only result in him achieving greater independence from Sinclair and enhance his opportunity to grow his company — if it is his company.”