On Today’s Mediageek Radioshow: Former FOX TV Reporters Challenge KTVT’s License

On today’s mediageek radioshow I talk to investigative reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson. They were fired from FOX TV 13 in Tampa, FL for blowing the whistle on the station, which tried to bury and change facts on a story on bovine growth hormone (BGH) after being contacted by Monsanto.

Akre and Wilson are challening the station’s license with the FCC, which is up for renewal. They say the station aired known lies about BGH, and therefore failed to act in the public interest.

Drew and I will also discuss the latest news from the FCC about the departure of Media Bureau Chief Ken Ferree and the Commission’s decision not to challenge the Third Circuit Court decision striking down its revised media ownership rules.

Akre and Wilson have provided some information about their case, including how to file comments with the FCC, which you can read after the jump.

From Jane Akre and Steve Wilson:


There is no present way for citizens to file their views electronically. They should send letters to the FCC, with a reference line saying “Application for Renewal of Station WTVT-Tampa” and giving the application file no. which is BRCT-20040927AMD.

The FCC’s address is simply, “Federal Communications Commission, Washington, DC, 20554.”

If you are in the viewing area and impacted by WTVTÂ’s programming please make sure the commissioners are aware of that. If not, your voice is still important! Let the private companies handed free use of our public airwaves know whether you believe they are acting in the public interest as mandated by the FCC.

Suggested form letter to cut / paste and mail :

To the FCC Chairman and Commissioners:

As a consumer of the public airwaves I am increasingly concerned about broadcasters that are not operating in the public interest. I would like to add my voice in support of the Petition To Deny the broadcast license of WTVT as filed by Jane Akre and Steve Wilson. The File Number is BRCT – 20040927AMD.

Broadcasters have a mandate from the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast news and information to the public that is fact-based. This is not a nebulous standard. A six-person jury in August 2000 determined that the story Akre and Wilson were trying to broadcast was “false, distorted or slanted” in reaching a favorable whistleblower ruling for Akre. When reporters working inside a broadcast news organization bring first-hand information that the broadcaster has intentionally and deliberately distorted or falsified the news, the Commission has an obligation to investigate.

The FCC has clearly said “rigging or slanting the news is a most heinous act against the public interest and indeed, there is no act more harmful to the public’s ability to handle its affairs.” As a member of the public I do not feel my interests are served by a broadcaster that now proclaims in its appeal of the whistleblower ruling that there is “no law, rule or regulation” against news distortion.

This is a petition that demands further investigation and a public hearing


(your name and date)