Regulators invited public comment on whether the US broadcast license for Fox Corp.’s TV station in Philadelphia should be renewed after a grassroots organization asked that it be denied, saying Fox knowingly broadcast false news about the 2020 election.
(Bloomberg) — Regulators invited public comment on whether the US broadcast license for Fox Corp.’s TV station in Philadelphia should be renewed after a grassroots organization asked that it be denied, saying Fox knowingly broadcast false news about the 2020 election.
The Federal Communications Commission said in a notice that broad public participation in the proceeding would “serve the public interest.”
The Media and Democracy Project, a nonprofit group that calls itself non-partisan, in July urged the FCC to deny renewal for WTXF-TV. The next Fox station to seek license renewal won’t do so until 2028, according to Fox.
The Media and Democracy Project relied in part on findings from Dominion Voting Systems Inc.’s defamation lawsuit over Fox’s airing of false claims that the voting machine company rigged the 2020 presidential election. The group said WTXF and Fox harmed the public by willfully distorting election news, making Fox unqualified to remain a broadcast licensee.
Fox on Aug. 2 told the FCC the lawsuit concerned the Fox cable network, not WTXF, and was “an unrelated civil matter.” The First Amendment protecting free speech leaves government without power over what’s broadcast, the company said.
A Fox spokesperson called the petition “frivolous, completely without merit.”
Preston Padden, a former Fox executive who is backing the challenge, called the FCC action a “wonderful decision.”
The Media and Democracy Project said a hearing would lead to the denial of the Philadelphia station’s renewal application. Such a finding could be applied to other Fox stations, according to the group.
Fox owns and operates 29 broadcast television stations in 18 local US markets, including 14 of the 15 largest.
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