Tags: fox | murdoch | licenses | crew | news | corp | report

Liberal Group Targets Fox Licenses with FCC

Tuesday, 01 May 2012 09:55 PM

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A liberal ethics watchdog, taking advantage of a highly critical British parliamentary committee’s report on the phone hacking scandal involving Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, is urging federal regulators to revoke 27 broadcast licenses belonging to the company’s Fox broadcasting company.

The effort, the latest by a liberal group attempting to curtail Fox News, America’s most popular cable news network, is part of a thus far unsuccessful movement to use the British hacking scandal for political effect in the United States.

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) wrote to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski demanding action by his regulators.

Simply put, they want Fox to go dark by having the government revoke the licenses that give it permission to broadcast on national airwaves, according to the British Guardian newspaper.

The letter argues that the highly controversial final report of the British Parliament's culture, media and sport committee, which concluded Tuesday that Murdoch was not "fit" to run a major international company, had implications for the American regulators.

"If they are not passing the character standard under British law, it seems to me that they are not going to meet the character standard in America," said Melanie Sloan, CREW's director.

Under FCC regulations, broadcast frequencies can only be handed to firms run by people of good "character" who serve the "public interest" and speak with "candor."

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The FCC is entitled to consider past conduct of media owners, including conduct that does not relate directly to their broadcasting interests, as well as any patterns of alleged misbehavior.

But Genachowski so far is not showing any willingness to be drawn into the billowing phone hacking scandal concerning the News of the World and other News Corporation outlets in the UK. Genachowski has indicated several times that he did not expect his agency to get involved in the probe.

Analysts have long discounted the scandal as a distraction and too tiny to affect the bottom line of News Corp. One speculated to the Guardian that investors were betting the report was likely to lead to News Corp focusing on its larger, more profitable US assets.

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