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Jeannine Aversa   Associated Press   12-Aug-1998   FCC must review 60 Minutes Segment
Serafyn had asked the FCC to turn down CBS' license request for WGPR-TV in Detroit now WWJ-TV arguing that the network was not fit to receive the license because it had aired a distorted news program.
The Associated Press article below provides a brief introduction to the full United States Court of Appeals decision which is available on the Ukrainian Archive.  The original of the Associated Press article was provided by Yahoo, more specifically at Jeannine Aversa.
Wednesday August 12 2:58 AM EDT

FCC To Look at '60 Minutes' Segment

JEANNINE AVERSA Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) Responding to a federal appeals court decision, government TV regulators will take a new look at whether CBS' "60 Minutes" intentionally distorted the news in a 1994 segment on the Ukraine.

A Federal Communications Commission ruling against CBS on the matter could call into question the network's fitness to hold all or some of its broadcast licenses, said attorneys for the agency and for Alexander Serafyn, who led the court case against the "60 Minutes" report.

But CBS attorneys, speaking on condition of anonymity, disagreed.  They said only WWJ-TV in Detroit the station involved in the present challenge could be affected.

On Tuesday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia concluded that the FCC didn't sufficiently explain why it decided not to hold a hearing on the allegations involving the "60 Minutes" segment.

Given the court's ruling, the commission will re-examine the entire record, including Serafyn's allegations that the segment was intentionally distorted, an FCC attorney said.

Serafyn had asked the FCC to turn down CBS' license request for WGPR-TV in Detroit now WWJ-TV arguing that the network was not fit to receive the license because it had aired a distorted news program.

Serafyn, an American of Ukrainian ancestry who is retired and living in Detroit, had submitted evidence to the FCC involving his allegation about the broadcast, entitled, "The Ugly Face of Freedom."  The FCC denied Serafyn's petition for a hearing, saying it would not investigate an allegation of news distortion without "substantial extrinsic evidence."

The court said the FCC misapplied its standard for holding a hearing because it required Serafyn to demonstrate that CBS intended to distort the news rather than merely requiring that he "raise a substantial and material question of fact" a less demanding test.

CBS attorneys asserted there was no evidence the network intentionally distorted the segment.  In addition, they said the FCC has never revoked a broadcast license on such grounds.

The broadcast angered some viewers who believed that parts had been designed to give the impression that all Ukrainians harbor a strongly negative attitude toward Jews, the court said.

"This is basically an effort on the part of the Ukrainian community," said Arthur Belendiuk, Serafyn's attorney.  "The case is not so much about Mr. Serafyn as it is about a community that felt horribly maligned by what was said."

After the FCC revisits the case, the commission has several options: It could issue a new order that basically upholds its 1995 order but provides more details on how the decision was reached; it could order a hearing on the matter; or it could ask interested parties to comment and then it could issue a new order, the FCC attorney said.

Whatever the commission ultimately decides is likely to be appealed by the losing party, Belendiuk and other attorneys said.


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