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Sinclair Broadcast Group Boosts Boris Epshteyn Political Segments in Local Newscasts

Variety logo Variety 7/10/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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Sinclair Broadcast Group is boosting the presence of political commentator Boris Epshteyn in the local newscasts across its 173 TV stations in 81 markets.

Sinclair plans to deliver nine Epshteyn commentary segments to stations per week, up from three per week since the former Trump administration official joined the station group giant in April. Politico first reported the news of the volume boost for Epshteyn.

Epshteyn in his “Bottom Line with Boris” segments have opined on a range of political topics, from health care to tax reform to economic policy, since his debut as Sinclair’s chief political analyst. His segments have so far been a mix of cheerleading and defensive arguments on behalf of the Trump administration’s agenda. With the increased schedule, Epshteyn is expected to include short interviews with members of Congress and other D.C. political figures.

Epshteyn’s hiring and the tone of most of his commentaries has added fuel to the longstanding criticism that Sinclair injects a conservative viewpoint from the corporate office in Baltimore into local newscasts across the country. Sinclair also delivers to its stations commentary segments on politics and culture from Mark Hyman that typically offer a deeply conservative perspective.

Sinclair at present is awaiting FCC approval of its $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media’s 42 stations, a deal that would make it by far the largest TV station owner in the country, by reach and volume. Critics of the merger have asserted that Sinclair’s favorable coverage of the Trump administration helped grease the wheels for regulatory moves at the FCC that opened the door to the Sinclair-Tribune combination.

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