Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics says the British phone-hacking scandel shows that the News Corp. subsidiary “lacks the requisite character to hold broadcast licenses here in the United States.’ The stations involved are WTTG-WDCA Washington and WUTB Baltimore.’
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a government and corporate ethics watchdog group, today asked the FCC not to renew the licenses of the Fox-owned stations in Washington and Baltimore, citing the phone-hacking and bribery scandal in England that has roiled Fox parent News Corp. and its chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch.
As it must every eight years, Fox filed to renew the license of WTTG and WDCA Washington and WUTB Baltimore in June along with other licensees in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Petitions to deny the renewal are due by Sept. 1.
“The public interest demands that these licenses not be renewed,” said CREW in its petition. “News Corp. and Mr. Murdoch have engaged in a pattern of egregious, unlawful and conscience-shocking behavior that demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt News Corps.’ subsidiary lacks the requisite character to hold broadcast licenses here in the United States.’’
CREW maintains that in the “face of the overwhelming evidence of its bad character, the FCC, at a minimum, must conduct an evidentiary hearing that examines the full scope and gravity of the behavior of News Corp. and Mr. Murdoch while engaged in media activities.’’
Earlier this year, a British parliamentary panel concluded that Murdoch is “not fit’’ to run his international media company because of the phone hacking scandal. But no criminal charges have been pressed against Murdoch in Britain, although executives of News Corp.’s News of the World subsidiary have been indicted.
CREW argues that although the alleged crimes were not broadcast related, “individuals in News Corp.’s chain of responsibility were involved in the misconduct and their behavior related directly to their roles as members of the news media.”
News Corp officials were not commenting on CREWS’s petition.
Although the FCC rarely revokes TV station licenses, said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan, the Fox situation is “highly unusual…. I think they [FCC] will take this seriously,’’
Sloan said the there have been allegations that illegal hacking may have taken place on U.S. soil. And she says the FBI is investigating possible bribery charges that may lead to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
“The FCC put a good character standard in there for a reason, it can’t be meaningless,” Sloan said. “If this kind of conduct doesn’t violate that standard, you really have to wonder what would.”