September 19, 2006

Second Secret FCC Study Found

September 18th, 2006 by tkarr

Surprise! Another Federal Communications Commission study on the negative impacts of media consolidation came to light today after being buried at the agency for at least two years — the second suppressed FCC ownership study to surface in as many weeks.

It’s clear now that FCC’s top brass under then FCC Chairman Powell were willing to deep-six any research that contradicts the media industry’s pro-consolidation claims. The question now is what’s current Chairman Kevin Martin going to do about it?

The more recently spiked study, a “Review of the Radio Industry” conducted by the FCC Media Bureau, found that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 had led to a drastic decline in the number of radio station owners — even as the actual number of commercial stations in the United States had increased.

Last week, Senator Barbara Boxer uncovered a buried federal study that showed media consolidation is harmful to local news reporting. The 2004 report found that locally owned stations produced - on average — five minutes more local news coverage in a half-hour newscast than their consolidated competitors. Upon seeing the results, senior managers at the FCC ordered that “every last piece” of that study be destroyed, according to the Associated Press.

The unraveling controversy has been met with denials from both FCC chairmen.

Members of the Coalition have sent a letter to Chairman Kevin Martin to “immediately seek an independent investigation, through the Office of the Inspector General, to determine the circumstances under which the public was denied access to this important, taxpayer-funded research, the parties involved and the processes that may have allowed any record of its existence to be destroyed.”

As Martin considers eliminating local ownership caps and the longstanding prohibition on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership, he should heed the public concern. Ninety-seven percent of the public feedback received by the FCC in 2003 opposed further media consolidation, and more than 100,000 people have already filed comments this time around. Yet Chairman Martin continues to push for rules that will let a small handful of companies swallow up more of our local media.

Maybe Kevin Martin should start reading his own research.

He and the agency’s GOP majority are continuing Powell’s plan to gut the last remaining limits to local media conglomerates, but before he can proceed, Chairman Martin has promised to hold at least six public hearings, to make a show of his planned rule changes with average citizens. So far he has scheduled only one - in Los Angeles on Oct. 3.


Blogger TOTAL KAOS said...

Somebody should be going to jail over this.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006  
Blogger Alice said...

Wouldn't that be a new one...consequences....assholes...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006  

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