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ARM Challenges TV-Station License Renewals in Portland

The Oregon Alliance to Reform Media, or ARM, has filed a petition at the FCC to deny its renewal of all the commercial TV station licenses in Portland, Ore., saying its coverage of elections does not meet the FCC's standard of public-interest service, which is to meet the needs of the community.

The group uses as supporting material a study from the Campaign Media Legal Center that found that, in the four weeks prior to the election in 2004, less than 1% of newscasts were devoted to coverage of state elections, about 9% to ballot issues and less than 1% to local elections.

The group claims the study covered "substantially all of the regularly scheduled locally produced news available in Portland."

The group argues that the FCC must at least designate the license challenge for hearing--something it rarely does--saying that its petition raises "substantial and material questions of fact" that make that designation mandatory.

Of course, the FCC can also conclude that the evidence does not meet that burden of proof, as it did recently in denying a license challenge to Chicago commercial stations over minority issues.