Could News Corp lose right to broadcast in the US
Wed Jul 20 01:44:20 EDT 2011
On 7/19/2011 5:23 PM, Dan.Strassberg wrote:
> But if he IS convicted, he won't lose any broadcast licenses. The FCC
> will let him sell his holdings in the company/ies that hold the
> broadcast licenses. Or he will be allowed to place those holdings in a
> blind trust. He is too well connected to be stripped of any holdings,
> even if he is convicted of premeditated murder, which does not seem likely.
I wouldn't be so certain at this point. And the issue is more complex
than just Murdoch's own personal stake in News Corp. and its subsidiary
license-holding entities. The licenses to WFXT and WNYW and WWOR and the
rest (including the Fox cable-channel satellite uplinks, which *are* FCC
licensed even if the cable networks themselves are not) are held not by
Murdoch as an individual but by Fox Television Stations as a "corporate
And it's the character of Fox Television Stations, Inc. and of its
ultimate parent company, News Corporation, that would determine whether
the company - with or without Murdoch himself at the helm - can continue
to hold US broadcast licenses should there be a challenge.
Again, the relevant precedent appears to me to be the RKO licenses.
While it was individual General Tire executives who were convicted of
bribery abroad, it was General Tire/RKO as a corporate entity that was
deemed unfit to continue to hold licenses.
Should that come to pass, there are several precedents the FCC might
choose to follow. It's extraordinarily unlikely that it would simply
order the Fox stations off the air and leave their channels vacant. This
has never happened with major-market stations, but has happened with
smaller radio signals over the years. (I was just in Terre Haute, IN,
where three frequencies remain silent more than a decade after the FCC
stripped Mike Rice's stations of their licenses after Rice was convicted
of child abuse.)
It's more likely that the stations will be allowed to continue operating
temporarily, perhaps in a trust, with Fox selling the non-license assets
(studios, towers, programming) to a new owner and the proceeds of the
actual license sale being diverted somewhere that won't directly benefit
This happened recently in Scranton, where Doug Lane was allowed to sell
his stations to another owner after being convicted of felony child
abuse. The portion of the sale price attributed to the licenses ended up
going to the local DA for a child-abuse prevention program.
It's also essentially what happened with the RKO stations. RKO wasn't
allowed to take a profit from the sale of the WNAC/WRKO license assets,
but the FCC couldn't stop it from selling 7 Bulfinch Place and 45 Tower
Road to Mugar for what was surely a healthy amount by 1980 standards.
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