Sen. Frank Lautenberg says when it comes to television, his state is the poster child for lack of localism – with no DMA to call its own, it lives in the shadows of two mega markets. It’s reason enough to oppose any relaxation of media ownership rules.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Lautenberg called for a full study of the effect of any rule changes on localism and diversity before allowing any relaxation of existing rules.
“I have often said that New Jersey is the poster child for why localism is important,” Lautenberg wrote. “As you know, New Jersey does not have its own media market but instead must share two out-of-state markets – New York and Philadelphia. That means that New Jersey’s nearly nine million residents must tune in to out-of-state stations for the programs and information they rely on.”
Then came the latest salvo fired at News Corporation’s New Jersey TV station. “New Jersey does have one commercial high-power television station – WWOR-TV – but even that station, which is required by the FCC to operate for the benefit of the people of New Jersey, has not lived up to its obligations to serve the people of New Jersey. Instead, that station’s coverage of New Jersey news has actually decreased in recent years. Nonetheless, WWOR-TV has been able to continue to operate under an expired license since 2007 due to FCC inaction on its renewal.”
He noted News Corporation’s co-ownership of WNYW-TV and the New York Post and stated that this consolidation “has not served New Jersey well.”
Lautenberg concluded, “Given New Jersey’s unfortunate experience with media consolidation, I am particularly disappointed to learn that the FCC is considering modifying its media ownership rules to the benefit of major media companies and to the detriment of local news coverage.”