Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), asking the agency to deny renewal of three broadcast licenses held by Fox television stations. Because their licenses are set to expire in October, two Fox stations in Washington, D.C. and one in Baltimore – which are wholly owned subsidiaries of News Corp. – filed to renew the licenses this past June.
CREW is objecting to the renewals because under U.S. law, broadcast frequencies may be used only by people of good “character,” who will serve “the public interest,” and speak with “candor.” Significant character deficiencies may warrant disqualification from holding a license.
Read CREW's petition to the FCC
“It is well-established that News Corp. has been involved in one of the biggest media scandals of all time. Its reporters hacked voicemails and bribed public officials while top executives – including Rupert Murdoch – either approved the conduct or turned a blind eye,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “To say those responsible are not of good character is a colossal understatement – ‘despicable’ and ‘loathsome’ are more apt. Retaining U.S. broadcast licenses is a privilege, not a right. Based on its egregious actions, News Corp. should lose that privilege.”
Last May, CREW asked FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to revoke News Corp.’s 27 broadcast licenses, but the FCC has taken no action to date. Under federal law, however, broadcast licenses must be renewed every eight years. Once renewal is sought, opposition may be filed within three months.
An investigation by Great Britain’s House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee condemned Rupert Murdoch as “not a fit person to exercise stewardship of a major international company,” and concluded that both Rupert and James Murdoch turned a blind eye to News Corp.’s illicit activities. The Committee described parts of Rupert Murdoch’s testimony as “barely credible,” and said the notion he had no inkling about the widespread illegal conduct was “simply not credible.” The Committee described James Murdoch as “betray[ing] an astonishing lack of curiosity on the part of a Chief Executive.”
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There are also indications illegal hacking may have taken place on U.S. soil. Further, as an American company, any bribes News Corp.’s employees paid to foreign officials may violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Department of Justice is investigating.
Sloan continued, “It’s clear that both Rupert and James Murdoch were complicit in New Corp.’s illegal activities. If the Murdochs don’t meet British standards of character, they can’t meet American standards. The Atlantic Ocean has no character-cleansing properties.”