<\body> Stories in America: FCC Buries Report Proving Media Consolidation Decreases Local News, Diversity

Friday, September 15, 2006

FCC Buries Report Proving Media Consolidation Decreases Local News, Diversity

Former FCC Chair Michael Powell, Colin Powell's son, commissioned a report two years ago to find out whether media consolidation limits local coverage. The answer has been obvious since Clinton passed the Telecom Act. The study showed that local ownership of TV stations adds over five minutes of news to broadcasts, but that's not what the FCC wanted to hear, so it supressed the report:
The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says.

The report, written in 2004, came to light during the Senate confirmation hearing for FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. received a copy of the report “indirectly from someone within the FCC who believed the information should be made public," according to Boxer spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz.

Adam Candeub, now a law professor at Michigan State University, said senior managers at the agency ordered that "every last piece" of the report be destroyed. "The whole project was just stopped - end of discussion," he said. Candeub was a lawyer in the FCC's Media Bureau at the time the report was written and communicated frequently with its authors, he said.

In a letter sent to Martin Wednesday, Boxer said she was "dismayed that this report, which was done at taxpayer expense more than two years ago, and which concluded that localism is beneficial to the public, was shoved in a drawer."


At 9/15/2006 4:46 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

"The study showed that local ownership of TV stations adds over five minutes of news to broadcasts..."

I knew there was a great emptiness in my life. Now I know it was those extra five minutes of local news I've been deprived of.

At 9/15/2006 9:26 PM, Anonymous truthseeker said...

Uh, when you're talking about a 30-minute newscast with 10 or so minutes of commercials, another five minutes of fluff, five minutes of local NEWS is a pretty big deal.

What a sad state of affairs.

Here's more from Crooks and Liars:

So Former Chairman Michael Powell commissions a study to prove that allowing corporations to own multiple stations in regions doesn’t actually hurt the public’s interest in quality or quantity of local news information and the study shows the exact opposite: local media ownership DOES give the consumer greater and more relevant local news.

What’s a Bush appointee to do?

Bury the report in a drawer and order all the work product to be destroyed–destroyed, not shoved in a vault, not filed in some "mislabeled" folder to be shuffled in some bureaucratic hell. Then go ahead and approve more corporation ownership of local stations, thereby working against the public interest of which they are charged. Current Chairman Kevin Martin claims he was unaware of the report in his letter to Barbara Boxer.

At 9/16/2006 9:47 AM, Anonymous timmy said...

I'm trying...really I am...to get riled up about how I've been denied important local news about easement restrictions, adult education classes and high school soccer scores, but it's just not coming. My loss, I'm sure.

Look, for all I care they can fire every bureaucrat involved in "supressing" the report, and then fire another 98% of the bureaucrats leaching off the public teat in Washington who were NOT involved.

With all due respect, Old Media has lost it's relevance anyway. I can log onto a dozen or so websites to get more local news I could ever hope to read. And if that isn't enough to keep me happy, there's these things called "newspapers" I could buy for 50 cents to satisfy any additional cravings I have for local news.

So go ahead and have at it Barbara, and fire the lot of them if they didn't do their jobs up to government specs...but sorry, I've got more important issues that that will be occupying my attention in the coming days -- like my lawn turning brown.


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