FCC To Conduct 10 Ownership Studies
November 27, 2006 at 5:32 AM (PT)
Just before heading out of the office for the holiday, the FCC announced a plan to conduct 10 economic studies as part of its media-ownership rules review. The studies, which are bring written by both internal and outside sources and will be peer-reviewed, include:
1. "How People Get News and Information," written by NIELSEN.
2. "Ownership Structure and Robustness of Media," written by FCC staffers C. ANTHONY BUSH, KIRAN DUWADI, SCOTT ROBERTS, and ANDREW WISE.
3. "Effect of Ownership Structure and Robustness on the Quantity and Quality of TV Programming," written by the UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA's GREGORY CRAWFORD.
4. "News Operations," written by the FCC's KENNETH LYNCH, DANIEL SHIMAN, and CRAIG STROUP.
5. "Station Ownership and Programming in Radio," written by C.R.A.I.'s TASNEEM CHIPTY.
6. "News Coverage of Cross-Owned Newspapers and Television Stations," written by JEFFREY MILYO of the UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI.
7. and 8. "Minority Ownership," two separate studies, one written by DULE UNIVERSITY's ARIE BERSTEANU and PAUL ELLICKSON and the other by CAL STATE-SACRAMENTO's BARBARA O'CONNOR and SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY's ALLEN HAMMOND.
9. "Vertical Integration," written by the UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO's AUSTAN GOOLSBEE.
10. "Radio Industry Review: Trends in Ownership, Format, and Finance," written by the FCC's GEORGE WILLIAMS.
...raises more questions in the publicâ??s mind than it answers...
The reports are getting a pre-release thumbs-down from Commissioners MICHAEL COPPS and JONATHAN ADELSTEIN. COPPS said that the announcement of the reports "raises more questions in the public’s mind than it answers. How were the contractors selected for the outside projects? How much money is being spent on each project -- and on the projects collectively? What kind of peer-review process is envisioned? Why are the topics so generalized rather than being targeted to more specific questions?
"When the majority of the previous FCC voted to loosen the ownership rules in 2003, a federal court took them to task for inadequate justification of their handiwork. My hope has been that the Commission would not head off on the same tangent again -- especially at a time when many people already doubt the credibility of the research we do."
Echoing COPPS' concerns, ADELSTEIN issued his own statement charging that the "unilateral release of this Public Notice on the eve of the THANKSGIVING holiday ultimately undermines the public's confidence by raising more questions than it answers. The legitimacy of the studies is directly correlated to the transparency of the process undertaken to develop the studies and select the authors.
"The descriptions of the studies are scant, lacking any sense of the Commission's expectations for scope, proposed methodology and data sources. In certain instances, the truncated period of time to complete the studies is an ingredient for a study that doesn't engender public faith and confidence. The release of this deficient Public Notice is unfortunate given the importance of these studies in evaluating the impact of media ownership on the American public."