News Release

Is Murdoch Fit to Control Broadcast Licenses?

KARL GROSSMAN, kgrossman at hamptons.com
Professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, Grossman recently wrote the article, “Rupert Murdoch and the FCC: Unfit to Broadcast,” which states: “With the finding this week by a committee of the British Parliament that Rupert Murdoch is ‘not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company,’ the Federal Communications Commission should move to prohibit Murdoch from owning television stations in the United States.

“The licensing system for TV and radio stations in the U.S. requires that their owners be of good character. It also mandates that only U.S. citizens hold a major interest in a station — the reason why Murdoch became a U.S. citizen in 1985 as he moved to create a U.S.-based media empire.

“His Australian citizenship went, but as for his questionable character, that remained. In its extensive and scathing report on the hacking and bribery scandal in the U.K. involving Murdoch’s News Corporation, the Parliamentary committee declared that Murdoch ‘turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications. This culture, we consider, permeated from the top.’ …

“‘Rupert Murdoch is certainly not, as part of his evidence would have us believe, a “hands-off proprietor,”‘ the panel stated. Indeed, last week, Murdoch finally acknowledged to the committee that there was a ‘cover-up’ of the scandal in which he took part.

“The report, said the BBC, ‘directly questioned the integrity and honesty of Rupert Murdoch’ and could lead to a determination in the U.K. that Murdoch’s company ‘is not fit and proper to hold a broadcasting license.’

“When the Federal Communications Act — the regulatory structure for radio and later also TV in the U.S. — was initially enacted in 1934, a similar standard requiring station owners to be ‘stewards’ of the public airwaves became law in America. … If the owners are found guilty of a felony, an anti-trust violation, a fraudulent statement to a governmental entity, discrimination, among other things, they can lose their license to operate the station.