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Sinclair PUSHes for Jackson Tapes

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.'s news division, News Central, wants access to "candid" tapes of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Sinclair filed a motion in a Gwinnett County, Ga., court Aug. 27 seeking to review and copy hundreds of hours of tape currently under protective order as part of a dispute between Jackson's Rainbow PUSH and the former Rainbow PUSH employee in possession of the tapes.

The tapes are said to cover public and private roles for Jackson in the U.S. and abroad between 1999 and 2002.

Sinclair says it believes the tapes contain potentially newsworthy material, including footage of the Rev. Jackson in Liberia while he was a U.S. emissary and conversations with President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno. Sinclair points out that Rainbow PUSH in its own attempt to take control of the documents says they have "historical value."

According to Sinclair attorney Steve Thomas, the motion was filed by Sinclair rather than one of its stations for logistical reasons--it has no Georgia station. Thomas said the push for the tapes has no connection to any past disputes between Sinclair and Jackson.

Rainbow PUSH twice asked the FCC to strip Sinclair of some station licenses and to block purchases of other stations, arguing that it was controlling some stations through a front company.