UCC Will Appeal Denial of Miami License Challenges

United Church of Christ Had Complained That NBC, CBS Refused to Air Ad

The United Church of Christ said it plans to appeal an Federal Communications Commission Media Bureau decision denying its challenge to two Miami TV-station license renewals.

The UCC had complained that NBC and CBS, which own the stations, declined to air an editorial ad citing company policies against it. The ad advocated for religious tolerance. The commission pointed out that it was the network, not the individual stations, that had made the call, so it had no grounds to even consider the challenge.

"This is clearly an erroneous decision that acts to shield the networks from public scrutiny," said Andrew J. Schwartzman, one of the attorneys who brought the challenge on behalf of UCC.

"Networks do not hold licenses, so unless the public is able to challenge network-owned stations through the license-renewal process, there is no recourse," he added, describing the decision as having "far-reaching implications, far beyond the issue of religious tolerance."

"We have a strong case for reversal, and we will definitely pursue an appeal," Schwartzman said.