The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) apparently has "lost" legal petitions filed to deny the licenses of Milwaukee radio stations WISN and WTMJ on November 1 for subsidizing the recall campaign of Gov. Scott Walker with about $1 million of free airtime while not allowing any supporters of his opponent Tom Barrett on the air.
The public interest group Media Action Center (MAC) was informed its license challenges will be delayed because the FCC cannot find the legal pleadings, even though the agency had signed a receipt accepting them earlier this month. The deadline for the FCC to respond was thought to be Dec. 1.
Sue Wilson, director of MAC, says it is only because reporters started calling the FCC asking questions about the license challenges that the problem came to light. After sending Peter Doyle, Chief of the FCC Media Bureau's Audio Division, proof that the Office of the Secretary of the FCC had indeed signed for the documents, Doyle asked that she resend the documents this week.
"Mr. Doyle is working with us to accommodate our filings, but it is clear the FCC is more geared for working with corporate lawyers than the very public it is sworn to protect," said Wilson, who confirmed she carefully followed the instructions for filing Petitions to Deny on the FCC website.
"In my film Broadcast Blues," explained Wilson, "we documented how the FCC takes years to respond to Petitions to Deny, if there is any response at all. The agency pays so little attention to them, it cannot say how many license challenges are pending before them, and the FCC does not even know when it last took away any station's license to broadcast for any reason. The Petitions to Deny station licenses are the only means the public has to hold TV and Radio stations which are behaving recklessly accountable to the public interest, and we are standing up for our rights as the true owners of the airwaves."