FCC Denies Second Petition Against License Renewals

WASHINGTON: The FCC this week denied a petition by two public interest groups opposing the renewal of licenses for 19 TV stations in Chicago and Milwaukee. The motion marked the second denial for actions sought by Chicago Media Action and the Milwaukee Public Interest Coalition. Both said the eight stations in Chicago and the 11 in Milwaukee “failed to present adequate programming relating to state and local elections during the last four weeks of the 2004 election campaign,” according to the FCC document. They submitted an analysis of the top five stations in both markets as supporting evidence.

The commission determined the analysis “failed to provide evidence that the licensees exercised their editorial discretion in bad faith.” The two groups responded that the FCC’s conclusion was incorrect and failed to consider their data properly. More analysis was submitted in a request to reconsider the petitions.

“The staff reaffirmed that the commission does not generally question the editorial discretion of a broadcaster, but that the editorial decisions of a broadcaster may be reviewed where such discretion is exercised in ‘bad faith,’” the FCC said. The second set of data also failed to demonstrate this “bad faith” provision.