FCC upholds TV editorial discretion


This one has been kicking around long enough that we didn’t even realize it was still kicking around, but the FCC has once again turned down petitioners in Chicago and Milwaukee who object to license renewals for eight and 11 television stations respectively for their alleged failure to adequately cover local elections in 2004.

Chicago Media Action (CMA) and the Milwaukee Public Interest Media Coalition (MPIMC) are the complainants in an action dating back to 12/15/05. The cited a study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs which detailed scant local coverage in their markets, and also in Portland. The stations said that the study measured only a small highly specific slice of their programming and was not the whole story when it comes to providing local service. The FCC not only agreed with the stations, it noted that the First Amendment limits its ability to substitute its own or somebody else’s news judgment for that of the stations. Whether the Commission agreed with the complainants or not in this case, there is nothing it can do.