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Challenge to WMAL License Is Rejected

FCC staff reiterates that it cannot exercise censorship

WMAL can keep its license. The FCC has rejected a challenge to license renewal for the Cumulus-owned AM station, serving the nation’s capital.

Kevin M. Raymond had filed an objection complaining about the station’s “incessant bias” against the government in programs; he said the station broadcasts “blatant lies on each program” that cannot be considered protected by the right to free speech.

The commission reiterated in its ruling that it is prohibited from exercising censorship over broadcast stations with respect to content-based programming.

“A licensee has broad discretion — based on its right to free speech — to choose the programming that it believes serves the needs and interests of the members of its audience. We will intervene in programming matters only if a licensee abuses that discretion.”

While the FCC may regulate content where federal statutes require, it will not reject a license renewal application based only on “the subjective determination of a single listener or group of listeners as to what constitutes appropriate programming.”

WMAL’s programming includes Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Chris Plante and Michael Savage. Its “Mornings on the Mall” is hosted by Brian Wilson and Larry O’Connor.