WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker today applauded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for denying Fox Corporation’s request for a permanent ownership waiver that would have allowed WWOR-TV to continue to operate without any accountability for its failure to provide New Jerseyans local news and information, as it is required by law. Instead, the FCC opted to grant Fox a temporary waiver, which would provide another opportunity for the FCC to further review if WWOR has met its requirements when it reapplies for future waivers.
“WWOR is one of New Jersey’s only commercially-licensed broadcast stations, but it has continually flouted its responsibilities under the law and under its license to provide substantive, independent local news coverage, which is an essential component to having an informed citizenry and healthy democracy,” Sens. Menendez and Booker said in a joint statement. “This is welcomed news that hopefully will lead to WWOR living up to its obligations by recognizing the important role it must play in local journalism. By denying Fox this permanent waiver, the FCC has refused to close the door on holding WWOR accountable and ensuring the station properly serves the people of New Jersey.”
The senators last month objected to Fox, WWOR’s parent company, seeking a permanent waiver of the Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership (NBCO) rule—a measure designed to promote independence in news reporting—that permits the common ownership of WWOR-TV and the New York Post in the same media market, citing the station’s gutting of substantive news coverage in recent years, including ceasing its operational and physical presence in New Jersey when the station’s Secaucus studios were sold and then demolished last year. WWOR is required under federal law to “devote itself to meeting the special needs of its new community (and the needs of the Northern New Jersey area in general).”
Before its license renewal in 2018, Sens. Menendez and Booker urged the FCC to consider WWOR-TV’s failure to abide by its legal obligations to serve the people of New Jersey. After the FCC’s decision to renew WWOR’s license, the senators requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examine the process by which the FCC renews broadcast television licenses and introduced the Section 331 Obligation Clarification Act to ensure that New Jersey’s WWOR-TV and other local stations live up to their obligations under the current law.
Sen. Menendez also submitted written testimony before a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing in June 2019 outlining WWOR-TV’s failure to provide New Jerseyans with meaningful local, news programming.
April 22, 2021