You may be familiar with Sinclair Broadcast Group as that company that owns a lot of TV stations and forces its stations to run right-wing, pro-Trump propaganda segments like the controversial Boris Epshteyn segments. However, Sinclair is getting attention for a different reason altogether.
Joe Crain, a meteorologist who is (or was) the weekday morning and midday on-air weather forecast presenter for the Sinclair-owned and ABC-affiliated television station WICS in Springfield, Illinois, recently spent over two minutes on air and gave a rant criticizing the “Code Red” severe weather branding that Sinclair mandates that its stations use if there’s a threat of severe weather in the station’s broadcast area:
A major point Crain complained about is the confusing and alarmist nature of the “Code Red” alert that Sinclair mandates its stations use on-air and contrasted it with official (i.e., issued by the federal government’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC), which is under the National Weather Service (NWS)) convective severe weather risk forecasts. In the case of “Code Red”, that could be used for any dangerous weather condition, whether it be tornadoes, strong to severe thunderstorms, flooding, or other dangerous weather situations, and it’s not an official National Weather Service watch, warning, emergency, advisory, statement, or outlook. “Code Red” could be used for anything ranging from a few pop-up thunderstorms in a particular area to a destructive and large-scale tornado outbreak, and usage of the term “Code Red” is obviously a term that is designed to be scary. In the case of the SPC convective severe weather risk forecasts, those forecasts are limited to convective weather (i.e., tornadoes and thunderstorms), and use a five-level scale to convey the likelihood and severity of anticipated convective severe weather (i.e., tornadoes and severe thunderstorms).
Crain also acknowledged that, while Sinclair owns WICS, WICS (and its full-power repeater, WICD), like every other U.S.-based television station with an over-the-air signal, is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. Although Crain didn’t directly accuse Sinclair of violating FCC regulations, that did strike me as an insinuation that Sinclair may have been violating FCC regulations of some kind. However, I don’t know of any potential FCC violations with the “Code Red” warnings that Sinclair-owned stations use, since I don’t think the FCC would step in unless there was a flagrant attempt to mislead viewers (one hypothetical example being a station trying to claim that the “Code Red” warnings were being issued by the NWS, which I don’t know of any instance of a Sinclair-owned station doing that).
It is extremely rare, especially at a Sinclair-owned station, to see, for lack of a better term, the corporate media’s fourth wall being broken on-air, although Joe Crain definitely broke the corporate media’s fourth wall to tell the truth about the Sinclair weather hype machine.