The Writers Guild of America, East has asked the FCC to review the broadcast license of a local New Jersey Fox affiliate station that laid off seven news writers after canceling its nightly newscast in favor of a tabloid show.
21st Century Fox-owned WWOR canceled its last remaining news show last week, which the guild said violates its legal obligation to provide local news coverage in exchange for holding a license to operate in the state. The company is replacing the nightly newscast with a tabloid-style show called “Chasing New Jersey," according to a report in the New York Times.
“We agree that WWOR is not serving the interests of the people of New Jersey as required by FCC rules,” Writers Guild of America, East Executive Director Lowell Peterson said in a statement. “The people of New Jersey deserve a television station that will honor its responsibility to provide thoughtful, professional coverage of the issues facing the state. WWOR should add news programming, not chase it off the airwaves.”
The guild's statement comes on the heels of U.S. Senator Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) call this week for a review of 21st Century Fox’s application to renew its license for WWOR.
A spokeswoman for the channel hit back at suggestions that "Chasing New Jersey" did not fulfill its local news commitment.
"”Based in Trenton, ‘Chasing NJ’ is a news program immersed in all aspects of the state. Politics. People. Issues. It’s enterprise journalism that no one else is doing,” Dianne Doctor, WWOR My9 vice president and station manager, said in a statement to TheWrap.
21st Century Fox applied to renew WWOR's license to operate in 2007 when it expired, but the FCC has yet to make a decision on its application. Its license remains in effect, pending the FCC's decision.
For the record: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that WWOR had operated without a license since 2007.