Washington, D.C. – With Congress back in session, today Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) along with CREDO Action, Nell Minow of GMI Ratings, Public Citizen, and West Virginia Citizen Action Group sent a letter to the House and Senate Commerce Committees requesting hearings to determine whether Rupert and James Murdoch are of the requisite character to allow News Corp. to retain its 27 Fox broadcast licenses in the United States.
Under U.S. law, broadcast frequencies may be used only by people of good “character,” who will serve “the public interest,” and speak with “candor.” Significant character deficiencies may warrant disqualification from holding a license.
Read our letter to the Commerce Committees
An investigation by Great Britain’s House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee recently condemned Rupert Murdoch as “not a fit person to exercise stewardship of a major international company.” Further, the Committee concluded that both Rupert and James Murdoch turned a blind eye to the illicit activities at News Corp. The Committee described parts of Rupert Murdoch’s testimony as “barely credible,” and said the notion that he had no inkling about the widespread illegal conduct was “simply not credible.”
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “The House of Commons report makes clear that both Rupert and James Murdoch were complicit in New Corp.’s illegal activities. If the Murdochs don’t meet the British standards of character test, it is hard to see how they can meet the American standard.”
The Commons Committee report concluded Rupert Murdoch “did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking” committed by News International journalists and “turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.” Similarly, the Committee found that James Murdoch exhibited a “lack of curiosity…willful ignorance even,” regarding the hacking crisis. CREW previously sent letters to the House and Senate Commerce Committee in July 2011 and last week requesting congressional hearings on this matter.
Last week, CREW also sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski asking the FCC to revoke the 27 Fox broadcast licenses News Corp. holds in the United States. Building on last week’s letter, CREDO Action has started a petition to press the FCC to revoke these licenses. The online petition is available here.
“News Corp. has a pattern of outrageous and illegal conduct, including bribery, wire fraud, computer, and phone hacking,” continued Sloan. “If the FCC won’t act to revoke Fox’s broadcast licenses, Congress should immediately hold hearings. Retaining U.S. broadcast licenses is a privilege, not a right.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Jordan Libowitz at 202.408.5565 or email@example.com.