Staples Exits Sinclair News Programs

BOSTON Staples is pulling its ads from news programming on Sinclair Broadcast Group television stations after receiving complaints from customers angry over what they believe to be the media company’s right-wing political tilt, the company said.

Staples’ move came after a liberal media watchdog group last month began a campaign encouraging people to complain to advertisers including Staples and other companies about news content on Sinclair-owned stations.

The client’s ad account is handled by Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson in New York.

A representative for Framingham, Mass.-based Staples said the company’s decision to discontinue advertising during news programming Jan. 10 was made in response to the complaints and as part of the company’s routine, periodic adjustments to its media buying.

“Staples is an apolitical company without any organizational support for any political party,” client rep Paul Capelli said.

The chain of 1,600 office products stores will continue to advertise during non-news programming on Sinclair stations, Capelli said. The company has advertised with Sinclair for more than 12 years.

He declined to offer specifics on how much money Staples spends with Sinclair stations. Capelli also would not say how many of the advertising-related complaints Staples receives involved ads on Sinclair-owned stations.

Overall, Staples spent about $80 million on ads last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Phone messages seeking comment from representatives for Sinclair were not immediately returned.

Hunt Valley, Md.-based Sinclair has been targeted by many Democrats and liberal activists over its airing before the November presidential election of parts of the film “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal” during a program examining the use of documentaries to influence elections.

After it was threatened with a revolt by some shareholders, advertisers and activists, Sinclair said it would not air the full documentary. The documentary consists of interviews with U.S. prisoners of war who survived imprisonment in Hanoi and remain enraged at last year’s Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry, for joining the anti-war movement after he completed his Vietnam service.

Sinclair at first said the program would appear on all of its 62 stations, but then said the segment would appear on only 40.

Critics said the program constituted an illegal campaign donation by executives of the company, who are Republican contributors.

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