License renewals challenged
by Robert Feder, Chicago Sun-Times -- November 3, 2005
Objecting to what it calls inadequate coverage of politics on local television, a media reform group is challenging the license renewals of nine stations in Chicago.
Chicago Media Action petitioned the Federal Communications Commission this week to deny renewals for WBBM-Channel 2, WMAQ-Channel 5, WLS-Channel 7, WGN-Channel 9, WCIU-Channel 26, WFLD-Channel 32, WCPX-Channel 38, WSNS-Channel 44 and WPWR-Channel 50. All were cited for deficient coverage of 2004 elections.
"The FCC has repeatedly affirmed the importance of broadcasters' service to the local community," said Andrew Jay Schwartzman of the Washington-based Media Access Project, which is backing the Chicago group. "It's impossible to reconcile this emphasis on localism with the paucity of local election coverage available to Chicago voters."
In a separate action, a Chicago group called Third Coast Press also filed challenges to the license renewals of all the commercial stations as well as public stations WTTW-Channel 11 and WYCC-Channel 20. That complaint claims the stations "marginalized voices of anti-war activists in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq."
All television station licenses in Illinois are up for renewal this fall. After hearings, licenses may be granted for eight years.
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