Watchdog Group Challenges KCET's License

A conservative media watchdog organization that criticized Los Angeles public television station KCET for airing the newsmagazine "South Africa Now" has asked the Federal Communications Commission not to renew the station's license.

The 50-member Committee on Media Integrity filed a petition to deny license renewal with the FCC on Monday, according to its chairman, David Horowitz, a former '60s radical who rejected the left and co-wrote "Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the '60s."

The petition also asks the FCC to turn down KCET's request for a new transmitter in Bakersfield.

Barbara Goen, spokeswoman for KCET, said the station could not comment about the petition because executives there had not yet seen it.

Under FCC rules, anyone may file a petition to deny a station its license, but such petitions are rarely successful. They are most often used as a tactic to compel a station to respond to the petitioner's complaints.

Horowitz said his organization will withdraw the challenge if the station agrees to establish an elected board of directors. The group also wants the station to set up a paid position for an ombudsman.

Horowitz became the focus of national media attention in October, when KCET decided to pull "South Africa Now" for alleged bias--a decision the station later rescinded--and he claimed credit for raising the issue of the program's balance with station executives.

Horowitz said his organization decided to challenge KCET's license because ever since the "South Africa Now" controversy, members have been unable to get a fair hearing for their views.

KCET's Goen disagreed with that contention, saying, "Mr. Horowitz has had an unprecedented amount of communication and access to KCET."

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