WWOR-TV, Fox's MyNetwork TV-owned station in New Jersey, is under fire in Washington again. Picking up where the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) left off, Senate candidate Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to pull WWOR's license because it cancelled its 10 p.m. half-hours news program without informing viewers.
In the place of news, WWOR launched on Monday, Chasing New Jersey, a newsmagazine-style program about New Jersey politics anchored by Bill Spadea, a former GOP Congressional candidate.
The station is in an awkward position. WWOR is the state's only commercial high-powered station, yet it competes in the New York market with ratings heavyweights like WABC-TV and WNBC-TV. Often accused of ignoring New Jersey news and politics, New Jersey politicians have been calling for WWOR's license ever since News Corp. (now 21st Century Fox) purchased the station in 2001.
Now that WWOR has launched a New Jersey-focused program, Pallone still isn't happy. (Or maybe he isn't pleased about the show anchor's GOP credentials.)
"WWOR has failed for over a decade to live up to its broadcasting obligations to New Jersey. Studies have shown that WWOR has provided less coverage of New Jersey politics than most of the New York-based stations and has failed to provide adequate coverage of New Jersey news and public affairs," Pallone wrote in a July 8 letter to FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn. "Now, WWOR has pulled the plug on the only newscast the station had left."
In a statement, Fox defended the program change as just what the politicians ordered. "Based in Trenton, 'Chasing NJ' is a news program immersed in all aspects of the state. Politics. People. Issues. It's enterprise journalism that no one else is doing," said Dianne Doctor, WWOR's vp and station manager.
The FCC has yet to renew the station's license and in 2011, opened an investigation into its New Jersey news coverage.