The FCC denied Fox Corp.’s request for permanent waiver to allow it to own WWOR-TV and the New York Post, as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to review rules that restrict common ownership of a newspaper and TV station in the same market.
Instead, Fox Corp. was granted a temporary waiver, as it has been three other times.
The high court will hear oral arguments on January 19 in a case challenging the FCC’s effort to eliminate the newspaper/broadcast station cross-ownership rule in 2017. The rule was reinstated following a 2-1 decision in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The FCC’s Media Bureau indicated that it decided to grant the temporary waiver rather than a permanent one until the status of the rule was resolved.
“The action in this Order preserves the status quo and avoids the prospect of either hastily requiring a divestiture that might prove unnecessary or authorizing a permanent combination while regulatory uncertainty remains over the status of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule,” the FCC said in a statement Friday.
Fox does have a permanent waiver, granted in 1993, to own another New York-New Jersey station, WNYW-TV.
Fox Corp. had sought the permanent waiver, as the company and other broadcasters have argued that the rule was outdated given the changes in the media landscape and the competition that local stations and newspapers face from online outlets and streaming.
The public interest group Free Press urged the FCC not to grant the permanent waiver, arguing that it would “award the Murdochs with a permanent loophole in rules that encourage localism and diversity in our media.”