📺 The license of Philadelphia TV station WTXF is being challenged

📺 The station is accused of re-airing Fox News "lies" about the 2020 election

📺 Pennsylvania's U.S. Senators are defending the station's local coverage

Will Homer Simpson, anchor Bob Kelly and Bus Stop Buddy have to find a new home?

The renewal process by the Federal Communications Commission for the license of Philadelphia TV station WTXF, better known as Fox 29,  was extended by a challenge from a group called the Media & Democracy Project.

The group petitioned the FCC, contending that owner Fox Corporation spread misinformation from Fox News about the 2020 presidential election in an effort to improve its ratings.

"This deliberate manipulation of news to boost ratings undermines the very foundation of acting in the public interest, a requirement for broadcast license owners. The behavior of Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, Fox executives and Fox, is egregious and disqualifies them from being holders of a broadcast TV license," the petition from the group says.

The FCC took the rare step of seeking public comment on the renewal. The group also wants the FCC to hold a public hearing about the renewal.

Fox settled a lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over its post-2020 election coverage for $787 million. Reams of internal documents released as part of that case showed how Fox executives and personalities greatly feared losing Donald Trump fans in their audience by telling them things they didn't want to hear.

The Media and Democracy Project believes that Fox does not meet the “character qualification” to remain public interest broadcast licensees.

History of Channel 29 ownership in Philadelphia
History of Channel 29 ownership in Philadelphia (Canva)

Senators: Fox 29 upholds "core values of local broadcasting"

U.S. Sens. Robert Casey and John Fetterman, both Democrats,  have come to the station's defense in a joint letter to the FCC, stressing the station's local connection to the community. Support from the community is evident in public comment already received by the FCC, according to the senators.

"The record is replete with comments from Philadelphia residents, organizations, and elected officials from a range of backgrounds attesting to the station's commitment to upholding the core values of local broadcasting and to serving Philadelphia’s residents. We hope that you take these comments as a testament to the importance this station has in the community," Casey and Fetterman wrote.

Preston Padden, a former Fox executive who is part of the Media & Democracy Project, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Casey and Fetterman submitted the letter as to not upset a media outlet that will cover their potential future political campaigns.

Fox in its response to the petition denied the allegations and urged the FCC to dismiss the complaint.

The FCC has not announced when it will make a decision on Fox 29's license.

All of Philadelphia's TV stations are owned by media companies. KYW Ch. 3 and WPSG Philly 57 are owned by CBS.  WPVI Channel 6 is owned by Disney and WCAU NBC 10 and WWSI Telemundo 62 are owned by NBC. Nexstar Media Group owns WPHL Ch. 17.

(Includes material copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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