Saturday, December 01, 2007

A test of the FCC

In the days where the FCC is only known for enforcing rules against obscenities on network TV, they are facing an issue which is not commonly heard from the average viewer. Residents in New Jersey are complaining that one of the local affiliates, WWOR-TV, the My Network affiliate from Secaucus, NJ, does not include New Jersey issues in the local newscasts. WWOR is in the New York City DMA, which includes portions of Southern New York State, the Northern Half of New Jersey and Fairfield County, Connecticut and only focuses on news about New York. (For a map, see here.) However, in it's city of license, essentially the place where the station originates from, is in Secaucus, New Jersey.

WWOR is in Secaucus because of some financial difficulties that one of the owners had and to over come the problem, they moved the city of license from New York City to Secaucus. The FCC allowed this, but they added an amendment to the approval stating that by WWOR moving to New Jersey, it was required to focus on New Jersey issues and not just issues in NYC or New York state. This is important because besides WWOR, New Jersey does not have any other local affiliates from the other major networks. The southern part of New Jersey is covered by the Philadelphia media market. So you can see why this would be important to the residents of New Jersey.

On Wednesday, the FCC held a hearing to discuss the issues with WWOR. The session hosted 100 people and the concerns were heard.

“I’ve been watching Channel 9 for years, and I was surprised to know that WWOR wasn’t a New York City station,” said Patrick V. Adams, a 19-year-old Rutgers student.

WWOR responded to the critics by showing a video of news stories about New Jersey. However, they were still flawed because their slogan is "My9NY" standing for : My 9 New York. While they were at the meeting, their cameraman had put masking take over the NY on the logo sticker on his camera. The NY Times also reports that they changed the picture on their homepage ( from the New York Skyline to the George Washington Bridge which connects New York with New Jersey.

If WWOR does not fix the problem of focusing on New Jersey, then they may loose their license to broadcast from the FCC. If this happens, (the likeliness of this happening is slim) it would be definitely unique and also a first in a long time for a station to loose their broadcasting license. Not many stations these days have problems renewing their license, and if WWOR cannot renew theirs, it would be a wake up call to stations who have such agreements and also would show that the FCC actually does more than just fine stations for obscenities.

I know that this may be boring, but it is not everyday that a TV station is faced with possibly loosing their broadcasting license...

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