U.S. senators ask FCC to hold Secaucus-based TV station accountable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker have urged the FCC to consider WWOR-TV’s shortcomings in serving New Jersey in its decision to renew or deny the station’s license. Based in Secaucus, FOX-owned WWOR-TV is the state’s only commercial, high-power broadcast TV station.
“WWOR-TV’s failure to provide local news coverage goes back several years,” the senators wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
“The WWOR-TV license makes clear – and the FCC has confirmed on multiple occasions – that WWOR has special obligations to serve North Jersey,” the letter added. “Yet despite these requirements, concerns about WWOR-TV’s failure to live up to its broadcasting obligations in New Jersey have endured for over a decade.”
A 1982 federal law mandates that any license holder for WWOR-TV “devote itself to meeting the special needs of its new community (and the needs of the Northern New Jersey area in general).”
But according to the senators, “In 2009, WWOR-TV reduced its news coverage by more than half. At that time WWOR-TV broadcast 8.8 percent as much news programming as its peer group.”
The Fox-owned station also closed down its New Jersey news operation in 2013. The move forced layouts and absorbed staff from affiliate WNWY-TV in New York City.
It soon replaced its live newscasts with “Chasing New Jersey”— now called “Chasing News”— a half-hour, TMZ-style program produced by an outside company.
WWOR-TV now only offers three hours of weekly news programming, compared to the 56 hour average by other nearby broadcast stations, the letter claims.
“The FCC’s refusal to hold WWOR-TV accountable is unacceptable. For years, WWOR-TV has flouted its responsibility, and yet the commission does nothing,” the letter said.
“We feel strongly that WWOR-TV’s refusal to abide by its legal obligations should factor heavily in your review of its license renewal application.”
Menendez previously requested a “prompt and thorough” review of WWOR’s license renewal application in 2013.