Benton & SSRC Reports: Concentrated Ownership Does Not Correlate with Better, Diverse Media

Benton Foundation and the Social Science Research Council released their four reports on media ownership and concentration today. Without a doubt these reports explode the lies that the FCC majority, National Asociation of Broadcasters and major newspaper owners have been trying to push. The big media contentions, that more concentrated ownership results in more variety and better quality media are nothing more than assertions of faith, not fact. Amongst Benton and SSRC’s findings:

On minority ownership of media:

  • FCC data indicate that media ownership opportunities for women and minority groups remain extremely limited. Of the 12,844 radio and television stations that filed reports
    with the FCC in 2005, women own 3.4% and minorities own 3.6%.
  • Most of the media owned by women and minority broadcasters are AM or FM radio (89% for women, 87% for minorities) —a medium with relatively low costs of entry
    and barriers to ownership in rural areas.

On concentrated ownership’s effect on radio:

  • Station groups that are over the [ownership] cap and station groups that are exactly at the cap offer less variety in programming formats than station groups that are under the cap.
  • Relatively uncommon or “niche” formats like classical, jazz, folk, tejano, and gospel are least common among station groups that are over the [ownership] cap or exactly at the cap—even though those station groups have the most spectrum to spend on niche formats—while being much more common among station groups that are under the cap.

On the effect of newspaper-TV station cross-ownership’s effect on news:

  • Cross-owned television stations do not provide more local news and a local public affairs programming than do independently-owned stations.
  • Cross-ownership does not correlate with either the presence or the quantity of local public affairs programming.



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