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Jackson Takes Aim At Murdoch Stations

Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the United Church of Christ have filed petitions to deny News Corp.. license renewals in New York..

The licenses expire in June.

UCC has filed petitions to deny Tribune-owned TV station license renewals over the issue of owning newspapers and TV stations in the same market, and cited that dual ownership and media concentration in general in filing the petitions against News Corp.

"Fox's common ownership of The New York Post, WNYW-TV and WWOR-TV harms me by sharply reducing the number of independent voices available to me," wrote the Rev. Sherry M. Taylor, from UCC's Central Atlantic Conference in New Jersey, in the petition. "Unless the licenses are denied, my right to access diverse programming will continue to be harmed."

News Corp. has a waiver of the broadcast/newspaper crossownership rule to own both the stations and The New York Post. UCC and Rainbow are asking the FCC to rescind the waiver, which would make the stations automatically in violation of the crossownership ban.

The petitions were filed the same day (May 1) that News Corp. made a $60-per-share bid to buy Dow Jones, which publishes The Wall Street Journal.

Bob Robert Chase, executive director of UCC's Office of Communication, called the timing coincidental but said UCC's opposition to the wavier would extend to the waiver the company might need to own the Journal and the stations, calling the timing of the News Corp. announcement "a bonus."

"We received a copy of the petition and are reviewing it," said a Fox Television spokeswoman.

Rainbow/PUSH has made pushing back against media consolidation a prioriy, with Jackson telling B&C last fall that media ownership is "one of the leading civil rights issues of the 21st Century," arguing that "ownership of the means of communication drives everything else vital to a functioning democracy – voter education and empowerment, civic discourse, culture and public agenda setting."