NEW YORK — Late Friday afternoon, the FCC announced plans to make the Fox newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership waiver permanent for the New York City market, where Fox Corp. owns two local television stations and one local newspaper.
Fox’s request would make permanent waivers allowing the company to own WWOR, WNYW and the New York Post despite FCC cross-ownership limits that prohibit one company from controlling this many broadcast and newspaper outlets in a given market.
The outgoing Pai FCC tried to strike down those cross-ownership limits in 2017, but lost on appeal. The case is now before the Supreme Court.
The FCC’s Media Bureaus opened a docket for public feedback on the Fox waiver, with an exceedingly short time frame for this important matter. Comments are due the day after Thanksgiving and replies are due by Dec. 4, 2020. This means the outgoing FCC could attempt to issue a decision before the agency transfers leadership to a Democratic majority following the swearing in of the Biden administration in January. The Pai FCC may try to engineer this despite a request from House Democratic leadership that the agency refrain from such controversial decisions before the transition.
Free Press Senior Director of Strategy and Communications Timothy Karr made the following statement:
“Chairman Pai wants to give more favors to media giants before he departs the FCC for good. The Trump FCC’s decision to grant a permanent waiver to Fox’s New Jersey and New York stations is part of a pattern of bending over backward to put industry interests before those of the people Pai and his GOP colleagues swore to serve.
“Fox has routinely failed to live up to its obligations to provide locally responsive programming to communities in New Jersey and New York City. The last thing a lame-duck FCC should be doing is bending the rules once again, all to award the Murdochs with more control over the public airwaves.
“The Murdochs have never had the public interest in mind. Fox Television Stations, the Murdochs’ local broadcast subsidiary, has a cookie-cutter approach to local news that has resulted in smaller newsrooms and fewer reporters at WWOR. This lack of broadcast coverage has hampered efforts to hold public officials across New Jersey accountable: The communities that WWOR is supposed to serve see little-to-no local reporting.
“The public hates the idea of media consolidation. The FCC needs to stop trying to ram through decisions like these that favor big media. It should instead study the impact these sorts of waivers have on diversity. The Pai FCC ignored its mandate to increase competition and diversity on the airwaves and provide more opportunities for local voices. Instead it seems intent on giving the Murdochs even more power."