The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) denied a permanent waiver for WWOR-TV, granting a temporary one instead, following the objections of U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez (both D-NJ).
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“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,” 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.”
Last month, the senators wrote a letter to outgoing FCC Chair Ajit Pai indicating that granting a permanent license would allow WWOR to keep avoiding providing New Jersey news coverage.
The Fox Corporation owns WWOR and the New York Post, with the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear a case on January 19th that challenges a 2017 FFC rule that does not allow the same company to own a newspaper and TV station in the same media market.
Fox already has a permanent waiver for a different New Jersey-based TV station, WNYW-TV.
Public interest group Free Press, through their Senior Policy Counsel Carmen Scurato, blasted the fact that the FCC would even consider a permanent waiver for WWOR.
“In reality, the Murdochs have never had the public interest in mind. Fox Television Stations’ austerity approach has resulted in job losses and less reporting at WWOR,” she said in a statement.
“This lack of local broadcast-news coverage has hampered efforts to hold public officials across New Jersey accountable. The communities that the station is supposed to serve see little-to-no local reporting.”
The station, previously headquartered in Secaucus, currently does not provide any New Jersey-centric programming since the cancellation of Chasing News earlier this year, which had favored more tri-state area coverage in recent memory.