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Rupert Murdoch’s Fox broadcast licences targeted by US ethics group

A Washington-based ethics watchdog is calling on federal regulators to revoke News Corporation‘s 27 Fox broadcast licences in the wake of the highly critical report on phone hacking from the UK parliament.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew) has written to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, calling on the regulator to pull the plug on Rupert Murdoch‘s lucrative television licences on grounds of character.

The letter argues that the final report of the UK Commons culture, media and sport committee, which concluded that Murdoch was not fit to run a major international company, had implications for the US regulators that they had now to act upon.

Melanie Sloan, Crew’s director, said that the Murdochs had clearly failed the character test that is embedded within US media law as it is within British. “If they are not passing the character standard under British law, it seems to me that they are not going to meet the character standard in America.”

In their report, the British parliamentarians found Rupert Murdoch was “not a fit person” to exercise stewardship of a major international company. The Commons culture, media and sport select committee also concluded that James Murdoch showed “wilful ignorance” of the extent of phone hacking during 2009 and 2010.

Under FCC regulations, broadcast frequencies can only be handed to firms run by people of good “character” who serve the “public interest” and speak with “candor”. In making that judgment, the FCC is entitled to consider past conduct of media owners, including conduct that does not relate directly to their broadcasting interests, as well as any patterns of alleged misbehaviour.

The FCC has so far shown an unwillingness to be drawn into the billowing phone hacking scandal concerning the News of the World and other News Corporation outlets in the UK. Last July, Genachowski indicated that he did not expect his agency to get involved in the probe.

Read more at The Guardian.

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