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FCC should halt Fox News, MSNBC broadcasts, Rockefeller says

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, said during a Senate subcommittee hearing Nov. 17 that he would like the FCC to force Fox News and MSNBC off TV.

Speaking during a hearing on cable and broadcast TV negotiations, Rockefeller said, “I hunger for quality news. I’m tired of the right and the left. There’s a little bug inside of me, which wants to get the FCC to say to Fox and to MSNBC, ‘Out. Off. End. Goodbye.’ It would be a big favor to political discourse, our ability to do our work here in Congress and to the American people to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and, more importantly, in their future.”

Rockefeller did not explain under what authority the FCC could take such an action. Both Fox News and MSNBC are cable networks, not over-the-air TV networks that are subject to FCC rules.

The Radio Television Digital News Directors Association (RTDNA) responded Nov. 18 on its website with commentary by Ryan Murphy, RTDNA digital media editor, who expressed disappointment in the remarks and questioned how eliminating two prominent media outlets promotes healthy political discourse. “Healthy political discourse requires diversity of opinion, not no opinion at all. If there's something on television you don't like, please, just change the channel,” Murphy wrote.

The issue gained national attention when the Drudge Report published a link to video of the senator’s remarks.

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.