Rainbow PUSH and UCC tell the FCC: make Murdoch comply with media limits

On Nov. 6, lawyers for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc. (UCC, OC Inc.) asked the FCC to reverse course and ensure Rupert Murdoch s Fox Entertainment group complies with current FCC media ownership limits.

Fox currently owns the New York Post and two television stations, WWOR-TV, WNYW(TV) all serving the New York metropolitan area, which puts them in excess of the FCC s media ownership cap. Fox has been using FCC-granted waivers to hold media outlets in excess of the FCC s media ownership caps since 1993. Fox remains above the limit despite a court decision in 2003 preventing the FCC from increasing media ownership limits.

Too few, own too much, at the expense of too many, said Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Founder and President of Rainbow PUSH. The American ideal of e-pluribus unum (out of many, one) applied to telecommunications demands the democracy of airways. Ownership of such should be people - up, not privileged - down.

These repeated and extended waivers by the FCC essentially allow some companies to operate above the law. added Cheryl A. Leanza, managing director of UCC, OC Inc., While in rare cases the FCC can make a justified exception to its rules, this wavier is inappropriate.

Rainbow PUSH and UCC, OC Inc. filed a petition for reconsideration challenging the most recent in a long series of waivers given to Fox. On October 6, 2006, the FCC granted Fox another 24-month temporary waiver of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule. This waiver extends a waiver originally granted by the FCC in July 2001 conditioned on Fox s compliance with the cross-ownership rule within 24-months. The FCC justified the original waiver to avoid a fire sale.

At the time the 2001 waiver was granted, Fox told a court: The two-year waiver is not a free pass; it is a temporary arrangement crafted by the Commission to allow Fox time to locate a new buyer for a fragile, money-losing enterprise. Nonetheless, Fox never complied with this condition: it still owns all three media outlets. And without notice to UCC or Rainbow PUSH, Fox sought additional waivers from the FCC in September 2004 and again in September 2005.

The current waiver is flawed both as a matter of policy and a matter of process, said Leanza, not only should this waiver not be granted, but the process was done behind closed doors without public participation. By granting Fox an additional temporary waiver, the Commission eliminates an opportunity for potential minority or female ownership said Kimberly Marcus. While the FCC s decision was released October 6, the statements revealing reasoning of the individual commissioners have not yet been made public, despite yesterday s filing deadline.

Rainbow/PUSH and UCC, OC Inc. also challenge Fox s character in the filing. The FCC s definition of character encompasses two central qualities: reliability and truthfulness. The filing states, Fox s conduct in this and related proceedings suggests that it has been neither reliable nor truthful.

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The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization that seeks to protect civil rights, even the economic and educational playing fields in all aspects of American life, and bring peace to the world. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago, please see www.rainbowpush.org, or phone (773) 373-3366. To interview Rev. Jackson on this topic, please call the number listed above.

The United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc. was established in 1959 as an outgrowth of the UCC s historic commitment to civil rights to advocate on behalf of those who had been historically excluded from the media, especially people of color and women. UCC is a mainline Protestant church with 1.2 million members and 5,600 churches in the United States. More information can be found at http://ocinc.ucc.org/.

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