U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has asked the Federal Communications Commission to review WWOR-TV's license in the wake of parent company 21st Century Fox's decision to close its television news division last week.
Without its news division, Menendez does not believe that WWOR is serving the public according to the laws of its license, he said in a letter to the FCC on Monday. Menendez asked the FCC to expedite what the late former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, also a Democrat, campaigned for over a number of years -- for WWOR to be forced to either focus on New Jersey or have its license revoked.
"In light of WWOR's decision to drop their nightly news programming, a decision which affects millions of New Jerseyans, it is becoming increasingly critical that the FCC make a determination about WWOR's license and whether they are adequately serving New Jersey as the law and FCC rules stipulate," Menendez said in his letter. He added, "From my perspective, News Corporation is not."
News Corp. recently spun its TV operations into 21st Century Fox, but remains owned by Rupert Murdoch.
In 1982, the FCC stipulated that any license holder for WWOR "devote itself to meeting the special needs of its new community (and the needs of the Northern New Jersey area in general)," according to the letter. Menendez contests that the station has not held up its end of the bargain, choosing to focus on New York issues instead. He says that it has even attempted to physically move its new operations to New York.
Menendez accused WWOR of supplanting its nightly news segment "with a show referred to in news reports as 'like TMZ'."
That show is "Chasing NJ." WWOR does not see the distinction that Menendez sees.
"Based in Trenton, 'Chasing NJ' is a news program immersed in all aspects of the state. Politics. People. Issues. It's enterprise journalism that no one else is doing," Dianne Doctor, WWOR My9 vice president and station manager said in a statement.
The WWOR-TV application review has been pending with the FCC since 2007.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report