U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker have reintroduced an expanded version of a bill that would make it easier for the public to participate in the renewal process for broadcasters in the state.
This would apply to Secaucus-based WWOR-TV, which had its license renewed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year, despite the station shutting down its entire New Jersey news operation in 2013, and failing to provide meaningful local news coverage ever since.
“As long as WWOR continues to fail to live up to its obligations we will continue to hold them accountable to New Jerseyans,” said Sen. Menendez. “This legislation will prevent local TV stations, like WWOR, from ignoring their obligations and will strengthen the role of the communities they serve by giving local leaders and the public an active role in their programming and license renewal process.”
In accordance with a 1982 federal law, the FCC stipulated that any license holder for WWOR-TV “devote itself to meeting the special needs of its new community (and the needs of the Northern New Jersey area in general).” The FOX-owned television station shut down its entire New Jersey-based news operation in 2013, forcing layoffs while absorbing some staff at the company’s FOX 5 affiliate, WNYW-TV, in New York City.
WWOR-TV subsequently replaced its local newscast with “Chasing New Jersey”— now called “Chasing News”— a half-hour, TMZ-style program produced by an outside company. WWOR-TV now provides just three hours of weekly news programming compared to an average of 56 hours by comparable broadcast stations in the overlapping New York City and Philadelphia media markets.
The legislation would also require the FCC to issue rules to make it easier for the public to participate in the license renewal process.