Monday, February 27, 2012

Owners of WBFF Fox 45 Force Rightwing Activism on Station // Plus, Their Non-Discrimination Policy Excludes LGBT Language

UPDATE: A Facebook user has provided Maryland Juice with a link to a petition that they have started to oppose WBFF's commingling of news and anti-LGBT activism.  
Last Friday, Maryland Juice highlighted how WBFF Fox 45 (Baltimore's local Fox affiliate) had turned from journalism to activism by advocating for rightwing policies on their website. Their site banner currently provides direct links to anti-gas tax propaganda and an anti-marriage equality petition. All signs are pointing to these decisions being foisted on the news producers by their corporate masters at Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG). SBG became famous in 2004 during the Bush-Kerry battle. A wiki entry on SBG notes:
For example, in April 2004, the company refused to broadcast a special "Nightline" broadcast, produced by the ABC television network, that was devoted to reading the names of soldiers who had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom....
Sinclair gained further notoriety by ordering its 62 local stations to preempt prime time programming to broadcast an anti-Kerry film just before the November 2, 2004 general election.
The Washington Blade also recently reported on who was responsible for the anti-marriage equality link:
Maryland’s marriage equality law hasn’t even been signed yet, but Baltimore Fox News affiliate WBFF-45 has endorsed a referendum effort to repeal the measure.

On the WBFF website, a prominent, anchored link to the online petition calling for a referendum on marriage has been added to a homepage navigation bar. It reads “Same-Sex Marriage Petition” and links to the site gathering names to force the referendum....

A WBFF employee who works on the website told me that the link did not originate with the local web staff and was posted by “corporate.”

While some are quick to point out that Fox News had proven its bias long ago, I would point out two things: 1) WBFF is not actually owned or managed by Fox -- it is owned by the Maryland-based rightwing company Sinclair Broadcast Group, and 2) this activism does not appear on every area Fox News website. Note for example that WTTG Fox 5 (which covers the DC suburbs) does not link to these rightwing activist websites.

In my research on WBFF I also noticed some more strange details. The Fox Baltimore website posts an Equal Employment Opportunity notice which states:
SBG, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer. Equal employment opportunity has been and continues to be both the Company’s policy and practice. In order to provide equal employment and advancement opportunities to all individuals, employment decisions at SBG and its stations will be based on merit, qualifications, and abilities. We will recruit, hire, train, promote, and make all other employment decisions without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, Acquired-ImmuneDeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), AIDS-Related Complex (ARC), veteran status or any other category protected by law.

What I immediately noticed about this EEO notice is that Fox Baltimore does not tell potential job applicants that they will not discriminate specifically on the basis of sexual orientation. This seems like a strange omission since Maryland law already prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Fox Baltimore specifically enumerates practically every other protected group in their employment discrimination notice, and then they simply add "or any other category protected by law."  Was this an intentional omission? Are they trying to say something?

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