WWOR-TV License Renewal Opponents Get More Time

WASHINGTON—Opponents of renewing WWOR-TV’s license get another 30 days to file their formal objections. The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday granted a request by the United Church of Christ, Rainbow/PUSH, Free Press and Voices for New Jersey for a 30-day extension on filing petitions for review of the renewal, which the FCC approved Aug. 8. Petitions were initially due Sept. 8 and are now due Oct. 8.

WWOR’s license renewal has been pending since 2007 over assertions leveled by media watchdogs that it does not fulfill its license obligations. WWOR is a Fox-owned MyNetwork affiliate licensed to Secaucus, N.J. Fox also owns WNYW-TV in New York, while parent corporation News Corp. owns the New York Post. Fox had to obtain waiver of the newspaper/TV station cross-ownership prohibition rule to continue operating all three. The waiver was extended temporarily by the FCC’s Media Bureau Aug. 8, when license renewal was granted.

“After thorough review of the record and the station’s issues/programs lists, we find that from 1999 through the quarter ending March 31, 2014, WWOR-TV met its special obligations to serve Northern New Jersey,” the Aug. 8 Order states. “We also grant Fox a temporary waiver of our newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule to permit the joint ownership of WNYW/WWOR-TV and the Post in the New York market pending the outcome of the commission’s decision in its 2014 Quadrennial.”

WWOR was originally licensed to New York but the license was moved to New Jersey by a law passed in the 1980s that required each state to have at least one VHF TV station. Petitioners claimed its news and public affairs programming wasn’t focused on New Jersey. Rainbow/PUSH, UCC, et al, filed a Motion with the commission Aug. 12, saying they each had too much in the queue to properly coordinate a review application by Sept. 8.

“On top of the various commission proceedings coinciding with the Application for Review deadline, counsel for movants had previously scheduled vacations in August. As a result, counsel do not have the resources available to meet an early September deadline,” it said.

Petitions for Review are now due Oct. 8, with oppositions due Oct. 23, and replies, Nov. 3.