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Dear Acting Chairwoman Clyburn:
The recent elimination of news programming at WWOR-TV must compel the FCC to act immediately to deny the renewal of the station's broadcast license. The Commission should also move forward with its investigation of WWOR's misrepresentations in its FCC filings.
As was made clear during the Commission’s 2007 public hearing in this matter, WWOR’s news and public affairs programming has historically been deficient. At the time of the hearing, the station offered only eight hours of news and public affairs programs in its weekly broadcast schedule—a level of programming amounting to less than 25% of WWOR’s peer group average in the New York media market.
The people of New Jersey spoke loud and clear at this hearing. We asked that WWOR raise the level of its news and public affairs programming. Against this unmistakable mandate, the station has done just the opposite.
In 2009, WWOR-TV slashed its already paltry news and public affairs offerings by more than half. The station cut back to only three hours of news and public affairs programming each week—a level amounting to less than 10% of WWOR’s peer group average.
Also in 2009, WWOR-TV's owner, Fox Television Stations, Inc.("Fox"), misrepresented the station's staffing and programming levels in filings with the Commission. Fox later tried to conceal these misrepresentations, and it has continued to misrepresent the station's operations even in the face of the Commission's investigation of the matter.
Now, Fox has eliminated WWOR-TV's news programming altogether. The FCC cannot let this stand. It must act to protect the interests of more than 4 million residents in the station's northern New Jersey community of license.
The WWOR-TV license proceeding has been pending since 2007, and a related cross-ownership waiver involving WWOR-TV, WNYW-TV and The New York Post expired in 2008. The FCC opened its investigation of Fox's misrepresentations in 2010. In recent years, however, the Commission has shown no progress on any of these issues.
It is long past time for the Commission to take decisive action to ensure that the people of New Jersey are provided with the news and public affairs programming that they deserve.
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