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FCC keeps staff report off limits

The FCC has denied the NAACP’s Freedom of Information Act request for internal staff documents surrounding the agency’s Fox TV probe.

Last month, the FCC wrapped up its probe of Fox TV stations by concluding Fox technically violated rules barring foreigners from owning more than 25% of U.S. TV stations. But the agency gave Rupert Murdoch’s company the opportunity to argue that no penalties are warranted under the theory that Fox stations have benefited the public interest.

The decision by the five FCC members came despite widespread reports that FCC staff and chairman Reed Hundt had originally sought harsher penalties for Fox.

NAACP lawyer David Honig said the FCC’s original staff recommendation in the Fox case is needed if the NAACP seeks an appeal of the decision.

The FCC voted unanimously June 6 to deny the NAACP request “to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.”

Honig declined comment.

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