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Pascrell, Menendez, Booker Applaud WJLP Commitment to Local New Jersey Coverage

Presumptive new owner of station responds positively to members’ concerns

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) today applauded the presumptive new owner of New Jersey TV station WJLP for their commitment to maintain the channel’s local news coverage. The commitment comes after Pascrell, Menendez, and Booker on November 5 called on the station to keep up its public affairs programming to Garden State communities.

“There may be no state whose population suffers more from a lack of local news coverage than New Jersey. That the presumptive new owner of WJLP has told us they are committed to providing local and state news coverage on that New Jersey-based channel is gratifying. We will continue to work with the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that local media coverage is protected, and we will keep urging the FCC to hold WWOR accountable for not providing New Jersey news coverage. A broadcast license belongs to the people and license holders like WWOR and WJLP must fulfill their obligations to our neighbors,” the members said in a joint statement in response to Weigel Broadcasting’s commitment.

Weigel Broadcasting of Chicago recently purchased WJLP, which has based in Middletown, New Jersey since 2014. WJLP holds an FCC broadcast license which requires it to air local New Jersey news coverage. The application to transfer WJLP’s television broadcast license from PMCM TV, LLC to TV-49, Inc., a subsidiary of Weigel Broadcasting Company (Lead File Number: 0000163354), is being evaluated by the FCC.

Perhaps no other state’s residents suffer from a lack of local news coverage more than New Jerseyans. Sandwiched between the New York and Philadelphia media market, New Jersey lacks its own designated market area.

For years, Pascrell and Menendez have highlighted New Jersey’s media desert, focusing on WWOR-TV’s long refusal to fulfill its legal obligations to provide local news. This summer, Pascrell and Menendez published an op-ed in the New York Daily News discussing WWOR’s decades of dereliction.

On June 24, the three members introduced the Section 331 Obligation Clarification Act, which would require Section 331 FCC license holders like WWOR to broadcast local news programming, consult with local leaders, and make it easier for the public to participate in the license renewal process. The measure was the subject of an House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing last month.

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