Another assault on radio license rebuffed


Marsha Farley believed that the license renewal for WQXR-FM New York should have been denied, not necessarily for what it did or didn’t do, but because of what it’s licensee didn’t do. A story Farley wanted to see in the New York Times was never written, nor was a version aired on the station, leading her to conclude that the company is not fit to be a licensee. Farley says that one Frederick Lembeck operates a website which has "documentary proof" that NYT is in possession of "evidence of dishonesty in the casino industry" which it is suppressing in order to protect its own advertising revenue. Farley says that Lembeck sent a letter to an NYT exec back in 1997 detailing corruption in the gaming industry, but there has not yet been a story in the New York Times newspaper. The FCC said, "Viewed in its most tolerant light, Petitioner makes the implied suggestion that the gaming industry information should have been broadcast on WQXR-FM." However, there are no specific allegations, and even if there were, the FCC would have very little or no jurisdiction over the matter "in the absence of evidence that the licensee has falsified, distorted or suppressed the news." The First Amendment, and the licensee’s judgment on what is newsworthy for its facility, carry the day.

RBR/TVBR observation: A radio station goes on trial because of a story a newspaper didn’t write? It is probably but a matter of time before a broadcaster accidentally cuts someone off in traffic and is then subject to a Petition to Deny on grounds that their careless driving renders them unsuitable to operate a broadcast license.