WWOR gets hammered at license-renewal hearing

New Jersey residents complained about Fox’s New York station, WWOR-TV – a station whose facilities and operations are based in Secaucus.

Many local groups are challenging the license renewal of WWOR, claiming the station doesn’t serve the New Jersey communities it was intended to.

Around one hundred residents filled a lecture hall at Rutgers University Wednesday night at the station’s license renewal hearing, and station officials faced criticism from residents, activist groups, and New Jersey’s U.S. Senator, Frank Lautenberg. Also present at the meeting were the two Democratic FCC Commissioners, Michael Coops and Jonathan Adelstein.

Among the complaints: The station focuses more on New York stories than New Jersey ones, and those stories that are focused on New Jersey are usually on crime, and there’s not enough information on the state’s communities.

WWOR officials defended their operations, which at one point, showed a video of the station’s New Jersey coverage.

Originally headquartered in Times Square, WWOR physically relocated to New Jersey in the mid-1980’s. Fox bought the station from Chris-Craft industries in 2001. The station was a UPN affiliate until 2006, where the net folded and became a My Network TV affiliate.

Original owner RKO nearly lost the station’s license in the early 1980’s when parent company General Tire was embroiled in a corporate mistrust scandal (RKO however, did lose its license to operate WNAC-TV in Boston [now WHDH]. ) Thanks to New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, RKO was able to hold on to the license by relocating it from New York City to Secaucus. RKO sold WWOR to MCA/Universal in 1986.

The station later increased public affairs and local programming targeted toward the state (though programs produced at WWOR such as The Howard Stern Show, The Morton Downey Jr. Show and the trashy Richard Bey Show weren’t exactly what you would call “public affairs”.)

WWOR was also once a Superstation on the same wavelength as WGN and WTBS, but was shut down in 1997.

The station recently struck a deal to carry two Knicks and Rangers games each this season, and to carry a handful of New Jersey Nets games this spring.

Sight Seen: A cameraman recording the proceddings at Rutgers had masking tape over the NY portion of the “My 9 NY” logo on the camera (this has been since retracted by the New York Times, as WWOR’s cameras have just “My 9” on them…) And shortly after the meeting, a picture of the New York skyline on WWOR’s website was changed to the George Washington Bridge, one of the the main arteries that connects New York with New Jersey.

updated at 5:30 p.m. on 2007-12-07 (New York Times retraction)