NJ Dems Want License Renewal Study
Charging that the FCC has been “derelict” in its duty to make sure TV stations serve their local communities, New Jersey’s two Democratic Senators on Wednesday called on the General Accountability Office to investigate the FCC license renewal process.
Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker cited Fox O&O WWOR New York as a case in point in their letter to GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.
“The WWOR-TV license makes clear — and the FCC has confirmed on multiple occasions — that WWOT has special obligations to serve New Jersey,” they say. “Unfortunately, for over the decade WWOR has failed to do just that and the FCC has turned a blind eye.
“Consequently, we believe that the FCC is derelict in its duties and continuously fails in to engage in the type of meaningful review necessary … when it considers broadcast renewal applications.”
Although WWOR is in the New York market, it is licensed to Secaucus, N.J., a western suburb.
Erica Keane, SVP, corporate communications, Fox Television Stations, said that the station has “fully complied with the Communications Act, and the FCC’s extensive renewal process took over 11 years.”
In their letter, the senators ask a series of questions that amount to a call for specific and concrete license renewal criteria, which the broadcasting industry has long opposed.
Among those questions:
- Has the FCC made clear the types of evidence that a concerned local citizen must demonstrate for the FCC to deny a license renewal based upon the inability or refusal of a station to serve its local community consistent with its license obligation.
- Has the FCC made clear the types of evidence a broadcast outlet like WWOR must present to prove that it is meeting the obligations of its license?
- Has the FCC made clear the circumstances under which the agency will take a hard look at the evidence presented by a licensee to confirm that the station in fact is complying with [the Communications Act].
- Has the FCC made clear the circumstances under which the agency will revoke the license of a station operating obligation pursuant to [the act] or its license.
- What, if any, enforcement actions or other investigations does the FCC take in order to ensure that broadcast stations meeting their obligations under the public interest standard….