An interesting twist to the above case is that the petitioners also used letters to the editor and a newspaper article in trying to get the FCC not to renew WSYR’s license.
The petitioners said that during a regional power blackout in 2003, WSYR failed to serve the needs of Syracuse listeners by not setting up adequate emergency preparedness arrangements.
As evidence they showed the FCC “a news article and several negative letters to the editor of the local newspaper regarding the station’s programming during the electrical power blackout.”
The petitioners said one letter alleged that Clear Channel has a “policy of paring down and consolidating news gathering and presentation staff.”
WSYR replied that the FCC can’t interfere with a broadcaster’s individual programming decisions and that the letters weren’t even consistently negative.
The complaint also argued that the station had switched to a CNN feed with a national, not local, focus; Clear Channel says it did that because of the wide regional nature of the blackout.
The commission staff agreed with the station and said it does not review stations’ news judgments or review the manner in which they choose to air coverage of newsworthy events.