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Armstrong Williams Eyes Another Station

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Commentator May Benefit From Sinclair's Latest Purchase

People of Color Stall at 19.4% of Local TV Workforce

Media Don't Discuss Race When It Applies to Them

Don Lemon Scored for On-Air Bill Cosby-Style Speech

Critic Writes About Rarely Mentioned Topic: White Privilege

"P. Diddy" Combs Hires Clinkscales as CEO of New Network

Iowa Congressman Criticized Over DREAMers Comment

Short Takes

Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson, left, David D. Smith, president and CEO o

Commentator May Benefit From Sinclair's Latest Purchase

Commentator and entrepreneur Armstrong Williams said Monday that there is "no doubt" that he plans to buy WMMP-TV in Charleston, S.C., his home state, from Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. Allbritton Communications announced Monday it has agreed to sell its seven television stations to Sinclair for $985 million.

Williams' good relations with Sinclair are paying off. In February, Williams and Sinclair announced that Sinclair would sell two other television stations to Williams' company, Howard Stirk Holdings. Those deals are making their way through the government approval process, Williams said.

David D. Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair, told Journal-isms in February that he and Williams had long worked together and that Sinclair was looking to expand its relationship with him. "I've always admired his ability to stick his neck out there and call people . . . for what they're doing. We're big believers in advocacy journalism, and he fits that mode. He was the first one I called" when the ownership possibility arose, Smith said.

Smith told Journal-isms by telephone on Tuesday, "Nothing's changed in that regard," but said he could not discuss specific transactions. Asked whether Williams remained "the first one I called" when the new deal arose, Smith said, "Yes."

Williams, who is African American, is securing a toehold where few other blacks are. African American television station ownership dropped from 12 stations in 2009 to 10 in 2011, or less than 1 percent of the nation's 1,348 full-power television stations, the Federal Communications Commission said in November.

Williams said Sinclair has guaranteed his $50 million loan, "and thank God for that. It shows you the progress that we've made." The lesson, he said, is "you've got to develop meaningful relationships," as he has over 13 years with Sinclair. The question that should be asked, Willliams added, is why other television companies have not done the same with other entrepreneurs of color. Providing them with cable networks is one thing, as Comcast has in fulfilling a commitment made when it purchased NBC, but physical television stations are tangible assets.

"You will see us celebrate diversity in our business in talent and in management," Williams pledged.

The nearly billion-dollar deal announced Monday "is the latest in a series of big media acquisitions to pounce on the increasing value of broadcast television properties," Thomas Heath and Debbi Wilgoren reported for the Washington Post.

They added, "The Tribune Co. this month agreed to purchase 19 stations from Local TV Holdings for $2.7 billion. In June, Gannett agreed to purchase 20 stations from Belo as part of a $2.2 billion deal.

"Allbritton Communications is a family-owned business that initially focused on real estate and banking and later expanded to include ABC affiliates in the Washington metropolitan area; Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va.; Harrisburg, Pa; Little Rock; Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Anniston, Ala.; Tulsa; and Charleston, S.C.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Smith made clear that Allbritton's holdings in Washington were the prime attraction. He said he planned to take its local cable channel national. "Being in Washington, D.C., and having 24-hour access to all politicians at all levels is a huge opportunity for us to capitalize on," he said.

"Everyone in the bidding for Allbritton — and the group was attractive to a lot of broadcasters — was willing to pay some sort of Washington premium, a bit extra for the influence and prestige (not to mention lots of nonstop political spending) of owning a station in the DC DMA," Mike Malone wrote Monday for Broadcasting & Cable. "(WJLA is more than just a DC station — it's a strong No. 2 behind WRC in DMA No. 8.)

"Headquartered in Baltimore, Sinclair CEO David Smith alluded to the allure of a DC station in today's announcement. 'To buy a full-blown news operation in our nation's capital and an infrastructure that allows us to be connected to our branches of government and be at the pulse of national issues is a once-in-a lifetime event,' he said.

"Smith continued to note that Sinclair is 'especially excited' to acquire the NewsChannel 8 cable channel, also in Washington. Smith called it 'the perfect platform should we decide to expand it into other markets.'

"Not included in the deal: Allbritton's Politico website and newspaper.

"Sinclair's conservative leanings have been painstakingly divulged and dissected in the media, and the thought of the rapidly growing super-group having a soap box and bullhorn in our nation's capital is sure to give the media watchdog groups a serious case of agita."

In addition to WMMP-TV, Williams said he might want to buy WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Pa., another Sinclair station. He said he and Smith had been talking about an Allbritton acquisition for two years.

Sinclair is acquiring Allbritton stations in Charleston, Harrisburg and Birmingham, Ala., markets where Sinclair already owns stations. It plans to divest itself of one station in each of those markets to comply with FCC ownership rules.

The mergers are having an effect on newsrooms. The Radio Television Digital News Association reported this month, "We're now losing TV newsrooms at the fairly steady rate of eight per year," as "quite a few TV newsrooms have been subsumed in some sort of consolidation or shared services agreement." Advocates of consolidation say they are necessary to keep the companies in business.

Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, an advocacy group opposed to media consolidation, said in a statement Monday, "The rapid expansion of Sinclair Broadcast Group — which is poised to double the number of stations it controls nationwide — is unwelcome news for local TV viewers. The company's cookie-cutter approach to local news and repeated use of the airwaves to push a partisan agenda are well known. And the idea that one company should be allowed to control so many stations in so many markets is simply outrageous. What will it take for the FCC to wake up? . . ." [Updated July 30]

People of Color Stall at 19.4% of Local TV Workforce

"The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds virtually no change in the percentage of minorities in TV news from a year ago; radio numbers are down overall, Bob Papper reported Monday for the Radio Television Digital News Association. "The percentage of minority news directors went up in radio but down a bit in TV. The percentage of minority news directors at non-Hispanic TV stations fell back from last year's record high — but it's still the second highest level ever.

"Women overall in TV news rose back over the 40% mark, but women TV news directors pulled back from last year's record high. In radio, women and women news directors edged up slightly.

"As far as minorities are concerned, the bigger picture remains unchanged. In the last 23 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 10.7 points; but the minority workforce in TV news is up 3.6, and the minority workforce in radio is up 0.1. . . . "

Papper continued: "The minority percentage at non-Hispanic stations fell to 19.4% from last year's 19.7%. It was 19.1% two years ago; 19.3% three years ago; and 19.6% the year before that. Largely unchanged overall in the last five years.

"At non-Hispanic stations, the minority breakdown is:

"10.2% African American (down from 10.5%)

"5.5% Hispanic (down from 5.7%)

"3.3% Asian American (up from 3.0%)

"0.4% Native American (down from last year's 0.5%)"

The RTDNA/Hofstra survey measures diversity at local television stations but not at networks.

Media Don't Discuss Race When It Applies to Them

"Ever since the George Zimmerman verdict came down, national media outlets have populated the airwaves with various voices discussing the volatile issue of race," Roland S. Martin wrote in his column for Creators Syndicate.

"Numerous networks have hosted specials and roundtables tackling the issue of race. But not a single network has had the courage to turn their cameras onto themselves.

"It's really easy for members of the media to question race in America. But for some reason, they get shy when it comes to what is happening in their own buildings. . . ."

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post included this columnist in an examination Friday of the lack of diversity in the White House press corps.

In his "tough love" message, Don Lemon names five things the black community can do to improve. (video)

Don Lemon Scored for On-Air Bill Cosby-Style Speech

"CNN's Don Lemon tonight addressed the controversy raised by his remarks on Saturday in which he voiced his agreement with Bill O’Reilly's comments on the black community," Josh Feldman reported Sunday for Mediaite. "Lemon convened another panel to address all the criticism he's got, including charges that he's being an 'Uncle Tom.' His panelists agreed with him that Lemon wasn't being condescending, he was just giving some much-needed 'tough love' to the African American community.

"LZ Granderson told Lemon how he had to explain . . . to his own son why he shouldn't go out wearing saggy pants in public, saying that young black [men] can still express themselves creatively without linking themselves to that history.

"Lemon directly took on the critics of his remarks Saturday.

' 'What is wrong with telling people to dress appropriately? These are things that I said yesterday that my mom taught me in kindergarten… Dress nicely, speak well, speak appropriately.' "

Lemon's comments echoed those of Bill Cosby in 2004, when Cosby, while being honored in Washington by the NAACP, blamed parental failures for high dropout rates, teen pregnancy, foul-mouthed behavior and a lack of respect within the black community.

Cosby received a large backlash then for painting with a broad brush and ignoring the larger societal factors at work, thus "blaming the victim." The comedian, actor, activist and philanthropist amended his comments.

Lemon seemed not to have learned from Cosby's experience. He took additional heat for aligning himself with O'Reilly and framing his comments in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin case, leaving the inference that the unarmed teenager's behavior was to blame for his shooting death by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.

Critic Writes About Rarely Mentioned Topic: White Privilege

"Fruitvale Station" director Ryan Coogler, left, and actors Melonie Diaz and Mic

"When Hollywood tackles race directly, it’s usually by way of uplifting allegories like 'Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,' 'Crash' and 'The Help,' each of which, in its own way, perpetuates the consoling idea that eradicating racism is simply a matter of purging our negative prejudices," Ann Hornaday, chief film critic for the Washington Post, wrote Sunday in the Post's Outlook section.

"Rarely do films ask audiences to grapple with the deeply embedded, race-based habits that give white Americans an edge in everything from housing to employment, or the positive racial profiling that grants white people countless free passes.

"Indeed, far from being confronted with the pernicious legacies of official discrimination, white audiences tend to have their assumptions about race reinforced. Black people are far more likely to go see movies with majority-white casts than vice versa. And whereas movies about African Americans have tended to be confined to comedies and urban dramas, the white experience has long been represented across a diverse range of genres, stories and characters.

"That worldview conditions not only the stories we see but the ones we tell ourselves. . . ."

Ann HornadayHornaday pegged her unusual essay on white privilege to the new film "Fruitvale Station," about the shooting death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed, 22-year-old black man, by a Bay Area Rapid Transit policeman. The movie cracked the top 10 box office list over the weekend, coming in at No. 10.

"I wrote it because these are concerns I've had for a very long time," Hornaday told Journal-isms Monday by email. "We seem to be caught up in a cycle wherein our 'national conversation' about race centers around injuries or injustices perpetrated against African Americans, and having black leaders then coming out to 'explain' — yet again — why the African American community is upset, and the persistence of racism even in the era of Obama. I've long been bothered that the white privilege part of that equation is never mentioned or explored. The scene in 'Fruitvale Station,' I thought, offered the perfect opening.

"The Outlook editors were supportive, if a bit skeptical at first. I basically did the essay on spec, the agreement being that if I didn't manage to thread the needle, they wouldn't run the piece. Luckily, it worked!"

"P. Diddy" Combs Hires Clinkscales as CEO of New Network

"Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs' upstart cable network Revolt TV has hired former ESPN executive Keith Clinkscales as its CEO, officials announced Friday during the Television Critics Association summer press tour," R. Thomas Umstead reported from Beverly Hills, Calif., for Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.

Keith Clinkscales

"Clinkscales, formerly senior VP of ESPN Enterprises and head of content development for the sports network, oversees Revolt, which will feature music-themed content targeted to urban millennials.

"Revolt TV, one of the new minority-owned networks selected for broad distribution by Comcast as part of the FCC's conditions for the [multiple-system operator's] acquisition of NBCUniversal, is expected to launch in October with 25 million households. The network already has distribution deals with Comcast Cable and Time Warner Cable.

"Combs told an assembled group of TV critics during a Revolt TV breakfast event here that said he wanted to initially buy an existing Comcast channel, but settled to launch his own service. He says the network will target millennials that don't have an outlet for music news and entertainment on cable."

Clinkscales said the channel expected to have a strong journalism component, aiming to snare kids surfing YouTube for music videos, Eric Deggans reported for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times. "We'll talk about music the way SportsCenter talks about sports," Clinkscales added.

Clinkscales launched the digital sports platform "the Shadow League" last summer. "Shadow league continues to grow," he told Journal-isms by email.

Iowa Congressman Criticized Over DREAMers Comment

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who recently suggested that many DREAMers were drug smugglers, has been criticized by the White House and members of his own party, including House Speaker John Boehner, Elena Shore wrote Thursday for New America Media.

" 'For everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,' King said last week in an interview with Newsmax.

"King was also taken to task in the Spanish-language press. In an op-ed titled 'The Irrationality of Racism,' columnist Humberto Caspa writes that Republicans like King aren't doing their party any favors. 'Because lawmakers in the House tend to be more partisan than the Senate, immigration reform is in limbo. Which is to say, it has been kidnapped by representatives such as King, who prioritize the radical partisan interests of their constituents over the whole of their political party. If immigration reform, which passed in the Senate, does not get a green light in the House, Republicans' domain over states that are considered undecided will suffer irreparable consequences.

" 'Moreover, a majority of the American people and especially the media won't just blame Republican representatives for the failure of law; they will also criticize them for handholding racists such as King. . . .' "

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Don Lemon Scored for On-Air Bill Cosby-Style Speech


Don Lemon is guilty of perpetuating a false narrative that all African-Americans live like the characters from the now-defunct HBO program, “The Wire”  He knows or should know that most blacks do not aspire to be rappers or athletes. Lemon must be aware that many African-Americans live quietly? They own homes. Their kids finish H.S. and college. In fact, 1.6 million blacks hold advanced degrees. But Lemon bought into the news hype. Catastrophe sells. Stories without “B” roll of baggy pants don’t make the “A” section. 

I challenge CNN and Lemon to be fair, objective. Why not dissect the attitudes and behaviors of whites. Let’s microscope them:

  • White groups planting IEDs, attacking, killing people based on racial animus
  • Drug abuse (crystal meth and so called “opioid addiction,” which is a nice way of not calling little housewives junkies)
  • White-on-white crime
  • Rampant child sexual abuse
  • Deadbeat Dads
  • Unwed motherhood (Bristol Palin was handled with kid gloves)
  • White collar criminals (Wall Street “banksters” took down the global economy. Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon aren’t in prison yet)
  • White privilege--nepotism=jobs for white kids
  • Affirmative Action--college acceptance due to legacy admissions

That’s nine unchecked problems in the white community.  Here’s number 10: people never inquire about who really profits from the estimated $800 billion illegal drug trade.  Black folks do not own the mechanisms that bring the poison into urban neighborhoods. The ships, planes, pipelines belong to big business. The Wall Streeters launder the drug money and live free in their Connecticut mansions.  They back politicians who build up their war chests to keep their “forever” jobs. But people of color are plucked off the streets, sent to jails(plantations) built by federal, state, local lawmakers. Big banks and big donors get the contracts to run the prisons. Money is made off construction, feeding, housing and detaining inmates.



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