Pascrell uses panel hearing to highlight New Jersey media wasteland

Pascrell uses panel hearing to highlight New Jersey media wasteland

Energy and Commerce panel today hears testimony on Members’ Bill to hold WWOR accountable for ignoring Garden State and abusing the FCC license

PATERSON, NJ – During a audience today from the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) offered a declaration in support of its legislation to hold WWOR-TV station responsible for not providing local coverage of New Jersey, in probable violation of its Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license.

For decades, WWOR has failed to provide adequate local coverage to New Jersey residents. Pursuant to a federal law of 1982, the FCC stipulated that every WWOR-TV licensee “is dedicated to serving the unique needs of their new community (and the needs of the northern New Jersey area in general).” But the Fox-owned station WWOR does not currently offer any local news programming to Garden State.

The Article 331 Law on the clarification of obligations, legislation proposed by Rep. Pascrell and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) would require Section 331 licensees like WWOR-TV to broadcast local news programming and facilitate public participation in the process. license renewal.

July 7, 2021, Pascrell and Menendez published an editorial in the New York Daily News, highlighting New Jersey’s poor television news landscape and discussing the decades of WWOR abandonment.

Text by Representative Pascrell prepared declaration is provided below.

Statement by Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. for the record

Energy and Trade Committee Communications and Technology Subcommittee

“Strengthen our communication networks to meet consumer needs”

October 6, 2021

Thank you, President Doyle, member of the Latta Ranking and members of the Communications and Technology subcommittee. I especially want to thank President Frank Pallone for his tireless commitment to New Jersey and his leadership on the entire committee.

Ben Franklin once called New Jersey a “barrel with two ends”. He described the particularly precarious station of our state between the behemoths New York and Philadelphia. Over 200 years later, this position still applies, and is especially true in our media coverage.

Perhaps no other state resident suffers more than New Jersey residents from a lack of local media coverage. This is why I greatly appreciate that today’s hearing includes my legislation (HR4208). This vital bill will hold WWOR-TV responsible for not providing local coverage of New Jersey, in probable violation of its Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license.

A broadcast license is public property and a public trust. For decades, WWOR has shattered that trust by refusing to cover Garden State with the attention it desperately needs. So many challenges to American democracy today can be attributed to the damaging decline in local news. Our state and our country deserve better.

Pursuant to a federal law of 1982, the FCC stipulated that every WWOR-TV licensee “is dedicated to serving the unique needs of their new community (and the needs of the northern New Jersey area in general).” But the Fox-owned station shut down all of its Secaucus-based news operations in 2013. WWOR currently offers no local news programming and only half an hour per week of public affairs. In comparison, broadcast stations in the overlapping New York and Philadelphia media markets broadcast an average of 56 hours of news and public affairs per week.

Late last year, the FCC wisely rejected Fox’s request for a permanent waiver of ownership of WWOR and several newspapers that would have, for all intents and purposes, allowed WWOR to ignore its legal obligations to New Jersey by all impunity.

Sadly, the FCC renewed WWOR’s license in 2018 for another decade despite opposition from many New Jerseyans. The FCC also refuses to impose penalties less than WWOR’s license revocation, with the agency saying it does not have the necessary evidence to impose penalties on WWOR for failing to meet its news requirements. New Jersey.

New Jersey has waited long enough for the change. Finally, my legislation will give the FCC sharp tools to force WWOR and other abandoned stations to fulfill their public responsibilities. Specifically, our measure would require licensees under this section to:

  • Broadcast at least 14 hours of localized programming during prime time,
  • File with the FCC a quarterly disclosure of all local programming, including a separate listing of specific local content,
  • Consult the local leaders of the market served by the station, and;
  • Orders the Government Accountability Office to issue a report that examines the process by which the FCC renews broadcast television licenses, and more specifically to determine whether this process adequately holds Section 331 broadcast television stations accountable for their obligations legal or licensing.

For years my friend, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, has been addressing this issue on behalf of news hungry New Jerseyans. I am proud to join with Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker in continuing his fight.

Thank you and the staff of the Subcommittee for your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to working together to move our bill forward to hold WWOR-TV accountable. I give in.

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