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FCC investigating Fox over its operation of WWOR-TV

February 17, 2011 |  2:29 pm

The Federal Communications Commission is investigating News Corp.'s Fox to determine if the company misled the regulatory agency with regards to the operations of its television station WWOR-TV in Seacaucus, N.J.

In a letter sent to Fox on Thursday, the FCC said it needs to determine if Fox and WWOR intentionally provided "material factual information that was incorrect" or is guilty of "intentionally omitting material information."

At issue is the staffing level and amount of local programming WWOR-TV carries. Fox has been criticized by media watchdogs and even Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) for not providing ample coverage of New Jersey on the station. Although WWOR-TV is known primarily as an outlet serving New York, it is technically based in New Jersey. Fox also owns WNYW-TV New York and has consolidated much of the operations of the two stations. Fox acquired WWOR in 2001.

Voice for New Jersey is an advocacy group that has been extremely critical of WWOR and has filed complaints about how Fox is running the station. On its website, Voice for New Jersey charges that WWOR now carries "less than 10% of the broadcast time" that other stations in the market devote to news. Fox, Voice for New Jersey said, has "grossly misrepresented" to the FCC the amount of news and public affairs programming that is on WWOR-TV.

Fox is also accused of not being forthcoming about the number of people who actually work at WWOR's New Jersey facility.

A Fox spokeswoman said the company will respond to the FCC's request and is “confident that upon review of all facts and applicable law, the FCC will recognize that these unwarranted claims hold no merit.”

If Fox is found to have intentionally misled the agency, there could be dire consequences including fines or even jail for whoever deceived the FCC and the loss of the station's license.

-- Joe Flint

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