Ethics watchdog asks FCC to revoke Fox's broadcast licenses

An ethics watchdog group is using the hacking scandal in the United Kingdom to call on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to cancel Fox's broadcast licenses.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Tuesday, arguing that U.S. law states that broadcast airwaves shall only be licensed to people of "good character" and used "in the public interest."

They're asking the FCC to revoke broadcast licenses for the 27 stations the Fox network owns in the United States.

Rupert Murdoch heads News Corp., the parent company of Fox. Murdoch's former newspaper, News of the World, is under investigation in England for allegedly bugging phones in order to obtain stories.

"The illegal actions of News Corp. are not only limited to Great Britain," CREW wrote, citing news reports that News of the World journalists hacked into the voice mailboxes of 9/11 victims. CREW called these actions evidence of a "significant character deficiency" that could disqualify Fox from holding a license.

"[T]he Murdochs clearly do not have the requisite character to retain their broadcast licenses," CREW wrote. "Accordingly, we request that the FCC immediately commence an action to revoke their licenses."

Adding to their argument, on Tuesday, a British parliamentary panel said Murdoch was unfit to run his media empire. His son, James Murdoch, an executive with News Corp., is also under investigation.

CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement that "if the Murdochs don’t meet the British standards-of-character test, it is hard to see how they can meet the American standard.”

The watchdog group also sent letters to the House and Senate Commerce committees asking for hearings into whether the Murdochs meet the FCC’s character standards.

An FCC spokesman did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment. Neither did Fox News.

— This post was updated at 10:56 a.m.