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Did Sinclair buy KOMO to shut it down?

IATSE seeks assurance that KOMO jobs, community service will continue



SEATTLE (Oct. 18, 2017) — IATSE Local 600, the union representing the news photographers at KOMO in Seattle, will hear on Oct. 23 the response from Sinclair Broadcast Group to a collective bargaining proposal to save their jobs if their proposed purchase of the Tribune Company including KCPQ (Q-13) is allowed to take place. Given the past record of Sinclair (see clips below), the threat of consolidation of the two stations into a single operation is real.

Contract negotiations have been going on since the autumn of 2015 with no resolution.

The pending sale has made national headlines and stirred significant controversy regarding political content and corporate influence on local news reporting. In Seattle, however, the far more pressing issue is whether this company will just turn two news operations into one, reducing the media voices available to Seattle viewers while also eliminating stable middle-class jobs.

Local television news remains the most trusted and most utilized source of information in the United States. There is little doubt that local TV is a vital public safety resource in times of natural and manmade disaster as well as civil unrest. Recent events in Houston, Miami, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas and Northern California have highlighted that critical function. Law enforcement and fire fighters work hand in glove with Local 600 members to provide real time information about what is happening, what to do, where it is safe — and where it is not.

If Sinclair is allowed to consolidate KOMO and Q-13, they will have bought out the competition simply to eliminate it. It would be absurd for the FCC to allow such a travesty, but we have seen too much absurdity in or public life to know what to expect at this point.

TAKE A STAND — The union’s fight for the future or KOMO News is also the community’s fight. We urge all our allies, friends and concerned citizens to let Sinclair know how you feel about the union’s proposal to keep KOMO news fully operational and keep working families employed.

Here are some news clips that demonstrate that the threat of Sinclair shutting down KOMO News is real:

In Greensboro, North Carolina, Sinclair Fired Entire News Staff Of 22 When It Acquired WXLV. Sinclair fired the entire staff of 35 when it acquired the ABC affiliate WXLV. [Triad Business Journal, 7/28/2005]

In St. Louis, Sinclair Shut Down Entire News Operation At Acquired ABC Affiliate KDNL. Sinclair shut down the entire news operation of the ABC affiliate after acquiring the station, making it the lone “big four” affiliate in a top 25 market without a local newscast. [St. Louis Journalism Review, 11/2001]

In Oklahoma City, Sinclair Fired Entire Weather Department. Sinclair fired the entire weather department when it acquired the Fox affiliated station KOKH. [The Oklahoman, 3/13/2003]

In Pittsburgh, Sinclair Fired A Veteran Weathercaster And 25% Of The Newsroom. When Sinclair acquired Pittsburgh Fox affiliate WPGH, they fired 25% of the staff including a veteran weathercaster and several key reporters. [Post Gazette, 4/23/2003]

In Rochester, Sinclair Fired Entire Weather Anchor Team After Acquiring Station. Sinclair fired the entire weather anchor team when it acquired the Fox affiliated station WUHF. [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 2/12/2003]

In San Antonio, Sinclair Fired Veteran Back Up Weather Anchor After Acquiring Station. Sinclair fired two-decade veteran backup weather anchor Robert Luna when it acquired the Fox affiliated station KABB. [San Antonio Express, 1/25/2017]

In Toledo, Sinclair Moved News Operations Out Of Ohio, Fired Longtime Chief Meteorologist. Sinclair acquired the WNWO and decided to move its Toldeo news operation out of Ohio and produce it out of South Bend, Indiana as well as fired longtime chief meteorologist Norm Van Ness [Scott Jones, Sinclair Cuts Back Ohio Newscast, FTVLive (Feb, 20, 2017)]

Sinclair Has History Of Eliminating Satellite Truck Operators, Hurting Live Coverage Of Local Weather Events. Sinclair has a history of eliminating satellite truck operators at local news stations, hurting station’s ability to report on the ground local weather events live. For example Sinclair eliminated three at KOMO in Seattle and two at KATU in Portland after acquiring the stations. [AdWeek, 10/22/2013]

Dave Twedell is a Business Representative for IATSE Local 600.

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