Taking advantage of his own bully pulpit on Emmis-owned WRKS-FM in New York, Al Sharpton suggested that the FCC withdraw waivers allowing Rupert Murdoch’s news Corporation to own two newspapers and two television stations in the market, in the aftermath of a New York Post political cartoon seen by many as offensive. In addition to the Post, News Corp. owns the Wall Street Journal, Fox WNEW-TV and MNT WWOR-TV.
Sharpton said protests against the Post cartoon are ineffective because News Corp.’s slice of the Big Apple media market make it difficult for advertisers to pass the outlets by, even if they happen to be as offended by the cartoon as Sharpton was.
According to the New York Daily News, Sharpton said it was not a matter of freedom of speech. In remarks addressed rhetorically to Murdoch, he observed, “"You have the freedom to do it, and we have the freedom to make you pay for it. We can hardly fight back if he owns half the newspapers in town and half the TV stations."
Sharpton is looking to amass a million signatures on a petition to present to the FCC.
In a statement last week, the Post fired back at Sharpton, saying, "The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."
RBR/TVBR observation: We do not believe the FCC has the authority to take a regulatory action based on the taste, or lack thereof, of a political cartoonist. Therefore, Sharpton can amass 100M signatures and it won’t matter. If he truly wants to hit News Corp. where it lives, he’d be a lot better off asking his supporters to avoid buying the company’s newspapers or tuning into its stations.