Fox Corp has to fight far-left petition to deny FCC broadcast license renewal

Fox Corporation is fighting hard against a concerted attempt by the left to prevent it from renewing its license to broadcast from a Philadelphia station.

At issue is Fox 29 (station WTXF), a Philadelphia news station that is currently licensed to Fox Corporation. The problem is that it’s time to renew the license, but several far-left parties have filed letters pushing for the renewal to be denied.

Last month, a group called the Media and Democracy Project (MAD) filed a petition claiming that Fox News’ “intentional news distortion” as per former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election claims “violate the FCC’s policy on the character required of broadcast licenses” and therefore warrants a “revocation of FOX broadcast licenses.”

The effort by MAD is reportedly being led by former Fox executive Preston Padden.

Then earlier this week, leftists Bill Kristol and Ervin Duggan, a former FCC commissioner and former PBS president, submitted a letter in support of MAD’s petition.

“As set forth below, we believe that there are more than sufficient grounds alleged in the MAD Petition for the Commission to designate the pending WTXF-TV (‘Fox 29’) renewal application for a hearing,” the letter reads.

“Doing so would enable the Commission to develop a record as to the problematic conduct of Fox 29’s parent, Fox Corporation (‘FOX’), and its various subsidiaries and to impose appropriate conditions and/or sanctions in light of its findings – up to, but not necessarily including, denial of Fox 29’s license renewal application,” it continues.

Fox Corporation has since responded with a scorching letter of its own arguing that its First Amendment rights protect the company.

In the letter, Fox Corporation warned that appeasing the mob would mean that “for the first time in history,” the commission would be adjudicating a broadcast license renewal “on the basis of cable network content, in violation of the First Amendment and the authority delegated to the Commission by Congress.”

Fox Corporation further referenced a quote from current FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel, a Biden appointee. Evidently, a couple of years ago she said that “the government making editorial decisions about content in the course of a broadcast license renewal proceeding ‘would be an affront to our First Amendment tradition.'”

The company also claimed that MAD/Padden are seeking “to conscript the Commission into a public relations campaign that has no place in a broadcast license renewal proceeding.”

“To the contrary, Congress and the Commission wisely designed the license renewal process to be impartial, focused, and subject to clear boundaries as to the scope of the Commission’s review,” Fox Corporation’s attorneys wrote.

Unfortunately, MAD isn’t taking the pushback lying down. It issued a Twitter statement on Thursday saying that it intends to respond to Fox Corporation’s letter:

Also, MAD has previously pushed back on First Amendment arguments.

“Our First Amendment calls for a free press and for free speech. But that does not protect unfettered lying that harms others. Defamation law applies the very high ‘actual malice’ standard and is a Constitutional limit on speech,” the group tweeted last month.

“The right of all Americans to a free press is not protected when a billionaire allegedly violates defamation law to spread lies. And Murdoch spread those (alleged) lies on his massive media network — a media network we are all forced to pay for (in part because our competition law around cable channel bundling is weak: Fox should be offered a la carte!),” it added.


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Vivek Saxena


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