If the past two days is any indication, the current cycle of FCC TV license renewals could be the next weapon in activist assaults on the media.
For the first time ever, The Parents Television Council has filed a petition to deny license renewals for two D.C. stations. That comes in the wake of yesterday's filing by activist groups against two other stations for alleged children's TV violations.
The PTC's issue is indecency. It has 35 outstanding complaints at the FCC against NBC's WRC (16) and Fox's WTTG (21) and has decided to force the issue. The complaints are over a masturbation scene in an episode of Keen Eddie (WTTG), and a Saturday Night Live salute that PTC says made light of pedophilia.
"In order to meet public interest requirements, we demand that the FCC not rubber stamp WRC and WTTG's broadcast license renewal without ruling on the PTC's pending complaints," said PTC President Brent Bozell.
If the FCC can't get its act together in time, PTC wants the stations to be issued only a temporary license.
PTC spokeswoman Katie Wright said that it will likely also file petitions to deny against stations in L.A., and could expand the practice to the 25 cities where it has grassroots chapters (a challenge has to come from someone physically in the market of license).
Fox was not commenting on the petition. WRC spokeswoman Angela Owens said: We can't speak to specifics since we haven't seen the petition. But I also want to note that we have a long history of providing quality programming. We are proud of our contribution and hear from our viewers daily and their feedback underscores our positive presence in the community."
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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.