Pascrell and Menendez Applaud Announce Hearing on Strengthening U.S. Media Networks
Energy and Trade panel to hear testimony on Members’ Bill to hold WWOR accountable for ignoring New Jersey
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today applauded the Energy and Trade Subcommittee’s announcement of the House on Communications and Technology he will hold a hear on Strengthen our communication networks to meet consumer needs. The October 6, 2021 hearing will highlight legislation proposed by Pascrell and Menendez to hold WWOR-TV station responsible for failing to provide local coverage of New Jersey, in probable violation of its Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license. ).
“Holding an FCC broadcast license is a sacred trust requiring its licensee to provide local coverage to its market” said Senator Menendez and Rep. Pascrell. âWWOR’s steadfast refusal to broadcast local coverage in New Jersey is a flagrant violation of that trust. This problem dates back decades and is one of our colleagues and friend, Senator Frank Lautenberg, who worked so hard to solve it. Our bicameral legislation will finally force WWOR to provide local news coverage to the Garden Staters. So many challenges to American democracy can be attributed to the damaging decline in local news. We thank President Doyle and President Pallone for helping to highlight the challenges of local media and look forward to this hearing. “
Pursuant to a federal law of 1982, the FCC stipulated that every WWOR-TV licensee “is dedicated to serving the unique needs of their new community (and the needs of the northern New Jersey area in general).” But the Fox-owned station shut down all of its Secaucus, NJ-based news operations in 2013, and currently offers no local news programming and only half an hour a week of public affairs. By comparison, broadcast stations in the overlapping New York and Philadelphia media markets broadcast an average of 56 hours of news and public affairs per week.
Pascrell and Menendez Article 331 Law on the clarification of obligations would require Section 331 licensees, such as WWOR-TV, to broadcast local news programming, consult with local leaders and facilitate public participation in the license renewal process.
WWOR-TV does not currently broadcast or produce a daily local news bulletin. When the station ended its news activities eight years ago, it initially replaced its local newscast with âChasing New Jersey,â a half-hour TMZ-style program produced by an outside company. It then rebranded itself as “Chasing News”, removing New Jersey from its name, then ceased operations in June 2020.
Pascrell-Menendez legislation will require licensees under this section to:
- Broadcast at least 14 hours of localized programming during prime time;
- File with the FCC a quarterly disclosure of all local programming, including a separate listing of specific local content;
- Consult with local market leaders served by the station; and that
- Orders the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to issue a report that examines the process by which the FCC renews broadcast television licenses, and more specifically to determine whether this process adequately holds Section 331 broadcast television stations accountable of their legal or licensing obligations.
Menendez and Pascrell have taken up the torch of Senator Lautenberg’s fight to hold WWOR accountable. On July 7, 2021, members published an editorial in the New York Daily News, highlighting New Jersey’s long barren television news landscape and discussing the decades of WWOR abandonment.
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