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The Presidential Campaign

Sinclair cuts back plans for Kerry film

By wire services
Published October 20, 2004

ELECTION 2004 COVERAGE IN TODAY'S TIMES
[Times photo: Willie Allen Jr.]
President Bush speaks at Sims Park in New Port Richey on Tuesday morning. He earlier had visited St. Petersburg's Progress Energy Park.

PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Faithful welcome president
Presidential touch in downtown Safety Harbor
A George Bush kind of bash
Campaigning with Leonardo DiCaprio
Panelists wait for sign to follow gut
Sinclair cuts back plans for Kerry film
Robert Trigaux: Economists mirror polarized country
Susan Taylor Martin: Poll: World's opinion of U.S. dimming
John Kerry bio
George Bush bio

POLITICS 2004
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Economists mirror polarized country
Glitches tracked as vote lines shorten
Martinez harps on Castor's war comments
Duval elections chief adds early voting sites
GOP wants voter form suit tossed
Expert: Electronic voting system is 'out of control'

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BALTIMORE - Under mounting political, legal and financial pressure, Sinclair Broadcast Group on Tuesday backed away from its plan to carry a film attacking Sen. John F. Kerry's Vietnam record, saying it would air only portions of the movie in an hourlong special.

It is scheduled to air in the bay area Thursday at 9 p.m. on WTTA-Ch. 38.

"The experience of preparing to air this news special has been trying for many of those involved," Sinclair chief executive David Smith said. "The company and many of its executives have endured personal attacks of the vilest nature, as well as calls on our advertisers and our viewers to boycott our stations and on our shareholders to sell their stock."

Chad Clanton, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign, which had demanded equal time to respond to the planned airing of the 42-minute film Stolen Honor, said Sinclair "has been all over the map on this issue. One thing that's certain is that they have a partisan agenda."

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the nonprofit Media Access Project, called the Sinclair move "a surprising cave-in."

Democrats have complained to three federal agencies about the Sinclair special, noting that Smith and his three brothers, who run the Baltimore-area company, have contributed heavily to President Bush and the Republican Party.

Sinclair said it will produce A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media using footage from Stolen Honor and other political documentaries while also examining allegations of media bias. The company now maintains it never intended to air Stolen Honor in its entirety, although Sinclair commentator and vice president Mark Hyman had told the Washington Post that the movie would air unless Kerry agreed to an interview, in which case only portions might run.

Sinclair's stock has dropped more than 15 percent since the controversy began 10 days ago.

Judge rules for Democrats on ballots

WASHINGTON - A federal judge rejected arguments from the Bush administration Tuesday and ruled for Democrats in a dispute over how to count provisional ballots.

The Department of Justice argued that battleground Michigan should be free to adopt strict rules to count the backup ballots.

The department said Democrats had no right to sue to ease restrictions on voters whose names are missing from registrars' rolls on Election Day.

The ruling from the Democratic-appointed judge in Michigan deepened the split among states and courts over standards for counting provisional ballots.

[Last modified October 20, 2004, 00:17:24]

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