Reports, Reports Everywhere, but Not One from the FCC

On Wednesday the Media and Democracy Coalitionreleased a series of reports focusing on the economic effects of industry consolidation in twelve states. Not surprisingly they find that media consolidation is bad:

The research finds that in every one of those states, most citizens already live in highly concentrated media markets with few choices for news and views. More media mergers in these highly concentrated markets will reduce already insufficient local news coverage and eliminate diverse voices and viewpoints and, in every case, exceed US Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Merger Guidelines.

The coalition includes groups like Free Press, the Benton Foundation, the Alliance for Community Media and the Prometheus Radio Project.

Benton also participated in authoring four additional studies with the Social Science Research Council. These studies, which will be released Monday, examine

key relationships between ownership, programming, and community impact, with a particular focus on:

  • The Radio Industry. Peter DiCola of the University of Michigan and the Future of Music Coalition examines how the concentration of radio station ownership affects the diversity of music programming.
  • Minority and Women-Owned Media. Carolyn Byerly of Howard University takes a critical look at FCC data on minority and women-owned media.
  • Minority News Consumption. Carolyn Byerly, Jamila A. Cupid and Kehbuma Langmia examine minority perspectives on the media coverage of minority communities, drawing on 196 interviews with African-Americans, Africans, Latinos and Asians in the Washington, D.C., and Maryland area.
  • TV/Newspaper Cross-ownership & Public Affairs. Michael Yan of the University of Michigan analyzes the relationship between newspaper and television cross-ownership and the provision of local news and public affairs programming.

I plan to attend their press conference on Monday and air highlights on next week’s radioshow.

The background to the release of all these reports is that initial public comments to the FCC on its media ownership proceeding are due this coming Monday, Oct. 23. And, yet, the FCC has held only one of its promised six public hearings on the topic, and released zero of its own research reports that were promised.

For those of us who still have to file our comments, the Media and Democracy Coalition’s reports should provide some empirical ammunition to help fuel our arguments against loosening ownership regs as further. I believe that original arguments bolstered by facts are more valuable for pressing our case with the FCC than just thousands of “don’t deregulate!” comments.

That said, if all you have time for is a short comment in opposition to media consolidation, by all means send it!

I hope to read through these studies this weekend and will post my thoughts on them.







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