Philly State Rep Urges FCC To Renew Local Fox Station’s TV License
By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband
Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2024 – Fox Corp.’s effort to protect its Philadelphia TV station from license revocation just got some new local political support.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Morgan Cephas sent a brief letter calling on the Federal Communications Commission to renew the station’s license, which is being challenged over 2020 election reporting that aired on Fox News Channel and Fox stations around the country.
The challenge to Fox 29’s license began last summer. Although Fox has asked for prompt renewal, the FCC has not acted.
Cephas, a Democrat writing in her role as Chair of the Philadelphia House Delegation, said Fox 29 was an essential source of local news that the city cannot afford to lose.
“We ask that the FCC does right by Philadelphians and grants Fox 29 its broadcast license renewal,” Cephas’ letter said.
Her letter was dated Dec. 15, but it was not posted to the FCC’s website until today.
Cephas, a state representative since 2017, stressed that Fox 29 has been on the scene for decades in getting out the local news.
“Whether it's your preferred channel or not, Fox 29 has shined a light on all Philadelphia's challenges and successes,” the lawmaker said. “Fox 29 has and continues to remain both an important part of our daily routine and an essential source of information.”
She added that a strong local news outlet like Fox 29 was important given the decline in the local newspaper industry.
“As elected officials, ensuring our constituents continue to have access to good local journalism is vital,” she said.
Fox opponents want Fox 29's license pulled after Fox paid $787.5 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged that false reporting by Fox News Channel defamed Dominion Voting Systems by saying the company’s vote-counting system was rigged against President Donald Trump.
In challenging the Fox 29 license, the Media and Democracy Project (MAD) cited the Dominion litigation and the judge’s written order finding, based on voluminous record evidence, that Fox repeatedly presented false news. MAD claimed that Fox violated FCC policy regarding a licensee’s character qualification. MAD said Fox was unfit to continue holding broadcast licenses.
The FCC has the authority to adopt and enforce regulations as to “the citizenship, character, and financial, technical, and other qualifications of the applicant” to operate a TV station.
Several prominent individuals taking part in the license challenge include: Preston Padden, a senior Fox official in the 1990s; former Republican FCC Chairman FCC chairman Alfred Sikes; former Democratic FCC Commssioner Ervin Duggan; and former Weekly Standard editor and Fox News contributor Bill Kristol.
Fox News Channel is a cable channel, not a licensed TV station. Padden has said Fox News Channel is relevant because its election coverage falsehoods were also broadcast on Fox TV stations via the program Fox News Sunday.