The Listening Post

Newsreaders in chorus: The monopolisation of local news in the US

A viral video raises concerns about America’s biggest TV news network. Plus, Britain’s poverty porn industry.

On The Listening Post this week: A viral video raises concerns about America’s biggest TV news network – which might become bigger. Plus, Britain’s poverty porn industry. 

The monopolisation of local news in the US

It may not be a household name, but the Sinclair Broadcast Group is the biggest local TV news network in the US, with 173 stations.

Sinclair stumbled somewhat clumsily into the limelight this week after it ordered its local TV anchors across the United States to read from a script accusing other news outlets of trying to control “what people think”.

The irony, it seems, was lost on the company, which is now trying to expand its reach to 70 percent of Americans.

Getting that deal past the regulator, the Federal Communications Commission, probably won’t be an issue. Sinclair has a friend in the White House in Donald Trump, whose administration is currently binging on deregulation.

Timothy Burke, video director, Deadspin
Dana Floberg, policy analyst, Free Press
John Nichols, national correspondent, The Nation
Helaine Olen, journalist

On our radar

Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Will Yong about Malaysia’s fake news law and the kidnapping of two Ecuadorian journalists by a Colombian militia.

Myths and money in Britain’s poverty porn industry

“Poverty porn” is a British TV genre that follows a simple formula: Take what Brits call a benefits scrounger – someone who’s milking the state’s welfare system for all it’s worth – throw in a dash of stereotyping, a little demonisation, add a pinch of reality TV and presto: you have a television show.

British tabloids and TV channels have long been hooked on stories about people claiming money from the state.

But it’s a dependency that comes at a cost.

Among the problems associated with poverty porn TV: the shows might entertain audiences, but they often also mislead them about the reality of the welfare system – and that can have implications for the people who depend on it.

Rossalyn Warren, freelance journalist
Rachel Broady, lecturer, Liverpool John Moores Univ.
Bob Jefford, co-executive producer, Benefits Britain 
Barry Tomes, PR agent
Ruth Patrick, researcher, Liverpool University