Watchdog group Chicago Media Action has tried and failed to separate nine Chicago television stations from their licenses, and its appeal of its failure also went down in flames. However, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, it is going to go after them a third time, in hopes a post-election FCC 8th Floor will have a more favorable take on their complaints. The group, along with Washington-based watchdog Media Access Project and a similar citizens group in Milwaukee, challenged the television license renewals based on a study showing scant coverage of local politics during the 2004 election cycle. The stations are accused of failing to meet their public interest obligations, particularly by failing the keep the electorate properly informed.
RBR/TVBR observation: The act of “serving the public interest” can take many forms. It can take the form of providing syndicated home-shopping fare 24/7. There is no requirement on the books that any station cover an election for even one second. These groups can file as many petitions to deny as they wish; there simply is nothing that the FCC can do about the programming these stations air short of it being found to be indecent. There are things CMA can do to put pressure on stations it feels are not doing the best they can to serve the citizens of Chicago – but serial document filing at the FCC is not one of them.