Alfred Sikes, the former head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during the George H.W. Bush administration, has thrown his support behind a bipartisan initiative to reject the broadcast license renewal of Fox 29 Philadelphia, a local channel owned by Fox Corporation. This move comes following a formal petition filed by the non-partisan Media and Democracy Project (MAD) with the FCC last month, seeking to deny Fox 29 Philadelphia’s license renewal. The petition cites Dominion Voting System’s defamation lawsuit against Fox, which was settled for nearly $800 million earlier this year, as evidence that the channel broadcasted “false news about the 2020 election” and violated FCC’s “character” qualifications.
In his objection, Sikes emphasized that the FCC needs to uphold the principle of operating in the public interest. He stated that if the public interest holds any significance, the FCC should consider designating a hearing for the renewal application of Fox 29’s license. Sikes also questioned whether the “truthful conduct” of Fox owners Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch aligns with the FCC’s standards for granting broadcast licenses. Notably, Sikes had previously supported granting Rupert Murdoch FCC waivers to establish the Fox Broadcasting Company.
Sikes joins other prominent figures in advocating for a hearing into Fox 29 Philadelphia’s license renewal. Former Fox News commentator Bill Kristol, former PBS president Ervin Duggan, and former Fox executive Preston Padden have all issued declarations and objections to the FCC. On the other side, Fox has officially filed an opposition to MAD’s petition, asserting that it could potentially infringe on the First Amendment.