Fox’s U.S. TV station licenses challenged

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A public policy watchdog group has asked the Federal Communications Commission to strip News Corp.’s Fox Broadcasting of licenses it has to operate television stations.

Citing the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed News Corp.-owned newspapers in Britain, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a petition to deny Fox’s applications to renew licenses for three of its TV stations -- WTTG-TV and WDCA-TV in Washington, D.C., and WUTB-TV Baltimore.

“It is well-established that News Corp. has been involved in one of the biggest media scandals of all time,” said CREW executive director Melanie Sloan. “Its reporters hacked voice mails and bribed public officials while top executives -- including [News Corp. CEO] Rupert Murdoch -- either approved the conduct or turned a blind eye.”


News Corp. and Murdoch have apologized about the ethics scandal, which led to the closing of its tabloid News of the World and the departure of several senior executives. The company has been investigated by lawmakers there and blasted for the lack of ethics at some of its newspapers. Murdoch’s son, James Murdoch, has been singled out for criticism because he had oversight of the British newspapers for several years.

While U.S. lawmakers are also investigating News Corp. to determine if any of the bad behavior overseas happened here as well, the FCC has shown little public interest in getting involved in the matter.

Noting that being of good character is a requirement for holding a broadcast license, CREW’s Sloan said, “If the Murdochs don’t meet British standards of character, they can’t meet American standards. The Atlantic Ocean has no character-cleansing properties.”

A Fox spokesperson declined to comment.

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.