The FCC was not looking to bury the 16-month-old decision to continue News Corp.'s waivers to own TV stations and the New York Post in the same market, but was instead trying to clear out a backlog of decisions.
That is according to an FCC spokesman.
The News Corp. order was released at almost 6 p.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.
Reporters are often counseled to pay close attention to government releases late on the Friday before holiday weekends, which can be a way to bury the news.
"It was the mechanics of getting a number of different releases and statements through the release process," said FCC spokesman David Fiske.
"The chairman is committed to having the bureaus reduce backlog," said Fiske. "The [News Corp.] order that came out Friday is part of that backlog-clearing process."
The petition may have been rejected, but the status of WNYW and WWOR remain up in the air. The FCC has yet to act on News Corp.'s application for renewal of its licenses, which expired June 2007.
That ongoing process has provided News Corp. critics with another venue for taking aim at the company and its waivers.
Fiske had no comment on why it took 16 months to release the order, but for most of those 16 months the FCC was not in the control Acting Chairman Michael Copps, but former Chairman Kevin Martin.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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