Four new studies cast a critical eye on media consolidation

[Benton Foundation announcement]

On Monday, Oct. 23, the Benton Foundation and the Social Science Research Council announced the release of four independent academic studies on the impact of media consolidation in the United States. The studies focus on two questions that are central to upcoming FCC deliberations about the regulation of media ownership:

• How the concentration of media ownership affects media content, from local news reporting to radio music programming.

• How minority groups have fared in an increasingly deregulated media environment, both as owners of media outlets and as historically-underserved audiences for news and other content.

The studies are intended to inform the FCC's re-examination of media ownership restrictions and have been filed with the FCC.

Benton Foundation President and former FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani observes: "These studies make clear that there is no support for the contention that media consolidation correlates with better, more local or more diverse media content. To the contrary, the studies strongly suggest that ownership restrictions should be tightened, not relaxed."

The four studies 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.

The studies ave available online at www.ssrc.org/programs/media and www.benton.org.

article originally published at .

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey