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Sinclair Accommodates Complaining Vets

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. isn't making it hard for one of its principal critics to file a complaint if the group decides that its Friday-night special on, among other things, John Kerry's antiwar activities is unfair.

According to an attorney for the Veterans Institute For Security and Democracy, which filed a complaint Oct. 18 with the FCC about the planned show, Sinclair interviewed the institute's president, Dick Klass, at its D.C. studios Thursday for expected inclusion in the broadcast and Sinclair has agreed to courier a copy of the tape to Klass as soon as it airs Friday.

"We don't know what the product will look like and are reserving judgment," said attorney John Crigler, with Garvey, Schubert, Barer in Washington. He called the interview and agreement to send a copy of the tape to Klass (it is not airing in Washington) a showing of good faith on Sinclair's part.

If the group does not feel it is a bona fide news event, however, and is instead an "attempt to dishonor the military record of John Kerry and affect the outcome of the election," as it said in its initial complaint, Crigler will be at his desk and typing away furiously on Saturday to amend the complaint to include a copy of the broadcast and refile it Monday (Oct. 25) with a request for equal time.

In its initial complaint, which anticipated that Sinclair would air the entire anti-Kerry documentary, Stolen Honor, the group had asked the FCC to rule that the program should not merit a media exemption from the equal opportunities clause of the Communications Act. That clause requires a station that allows one candidate to use its airwaves to offer an equal opportunity for the opposing candidate.