City questions focus of public TV station


The city of Wilmington DE is challenging the license renewal of Channel 12 WHYY-TV, claiming it is more interested in what’s happening across the state line in Philadelphia than it is in what’s going on in Wilmington and the state of Delaware. The station denies the charges.

According to the News Journal, the city points to the closing of a news bureau in the state capital of Dover and a reduction in Wilmington news staff from 16 to five. It also points to cancelation a popular program called “Delaware Tonight.”

WHYY admits that the financial situation has forced cutbacks, but claims it is actually increasing its Delaware coverage via its website and radio station, and it still covers Delaware stories on the television station as well.
The state of Delaware is said to have contributed $500K to the station, while the state of Pennsylvania kicked in $1.1M.

Wilmington DE is part of the Nielsen Philadelphia DMA.

RBR-TVBR observation: The odds of the FCC pulling the license are slim to none. It will find that carrying news and other programming is in the public interest, and that the content of the news is at the discretion of the licensee. Little thing called the First Amendment will be a factor.

But we understand Wilmington feeling it is getting hand-me-down coverage. So where this could hurt WHYY is in funding. Delaware contributed less than half of what Pennsylvania contributed, so you could argue that Delaware is getting what it paid for – but if the FCC renews the license and Delaware is still unsatisfied with the programming, its contribution could be even less.