U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D., Del.) said yesterday that he wants the FCC to require WHYY TV12 to provide more local coverage of Delaware. His call on the floor of the Senate came a week after the City of Wilmington challenged the public station on its First State coverage.
The expressions of dissatisfaction with the station's involvement in Delaware comes as WHYY seeks renewal of its broadcasting license, pending since 2007. Kaufman said the station, which receives support from tax revenues, has cut Delaware-oriented coverage over the last 40 years from 161/2 hours to 30 minutes a week. He rejected the station's claims that it makes up the difference in radio and Internet coverage.
In May, WHYY announced that it would close its Wilmington studio and Dover bureau, and lay off most of the staff in Delaware. In July, the station ended the state-focused nightly news program Delaware Tonight, and now runs the half-hour weekly show First, which repeats throughout the week.
WHYY spokesman Art Ellis said, "We remain firmly commited to serving the needs of Delaware. We not only meet our license requirements, but actually do much more than required by the FCC. We devote more time to Delaware than to any other community we serve." Although the studio is for sale, he said, "We are working with the City of Wilmington to find new space." He said the station's recent decision reflects changes in the media market. "Both commercial and noncommercial TV news are losing revenue. More and more people are getting their news from the Web, and we're trying to change to reflect the times." - John Timpane