FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski would not comment on whether
or not the FCC was investigating Fox's fitness as a licensee in the wake of the
British hacking scandal or a Parliamentary committee's finding that News Corp.
Chairman Rupert Murdoch was not fit to run an international media company,
but he did say it would in appropriate to prejudge the company.
That came in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing when he was
again pressed by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) on whether the FCC had initiated
its own investigation. It is the second time in as many weeks that Lautenberg,
a veteran critic of the company stemming in part from issues related to WWOR
Secaucus, N.J., has pressed the chairman on the issue.
While Genachowski was the featured witness at the hearing,
with the other commissioners getting very limited time, Lautenberg got each
commissioner to respond on the News Corp. question.
Lautenberg said that there was evidence that "News
Corp. has been involved in a broad range of misconduct reaching the highest
levels of the New York-based company and involving actions in the UK and the
U.S," and yet the FCC has not announced any plans to investigate. News
Corp. applied for renewal of their licenses in 2007, he said, which the FCC has
yet to act on. "What does it take for the FCC to begin an investigation?"
Genachowski said: "Obviously we have important
responsibilities under the law and are aware of the serious issues that we see
in the U.K." He did not say the FCC had seen any issues in the U.S.
"These matters may come before the FCC as adjudicatory
matters. I think it would be inappropriate for us to prejudge them, and also
inappropriate to speak about any investigations...We don't comment on the status
of investigations," he added.
Commissioner Robert McDowell: "I think the chairman has
stated it quite eloquently. I agree with what the chairman says."
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn: "We do have a process in
place. Any potential petitioner has a right to file before us and when and if
they do we take all those matters seriously and will review it in a timely
Commissioner Rosenworcel: "The Communications Act
speaks in terms of character, financial and technical qualifications for
broadcast licensees so the commission should monitor the situation."
Commissioner Ajit Pai: " I will associate myself with
my colleagues on that questions and commit to you that, in the context of a
license renewal proceeding I will study the record very carefully and support
Lautenberg said he thought action was "absolutely
required" and "we ought to get going on this."