FCC announcement of new ownership studies raises questions

FCC Names Economic Studies to Be Conducted As Part of Media Ownership Rules Review

[FCC announcement]

The Commission will be conducting 10 economic studies as part of its review of its media ownership rules. Each of these studies will be peer reviewed.

Study 1: How People Get News and Information

Description: This study will survey consumers about their use of media. It will identify consumers’ primary, secondary, and tertiary sources of news and information; whether these sources change depending upon the time of day or day of the week; and the frequency with which consumers access these sources.

Author: Nielsen

Study 2: Ownership Structure and Robustness of Media

Description: This study will describe the ownership structure and robustness of current media, including broadcast television, cable television, satellite television, broadcast radio, satellite radio, newspapers, and the Internet. The information gathered concerning the current media marketplace will be compared to the state of the media marketplace when the Commission last reviewed its ownership rules in the years 2002-2003.

Authors: C. Anthony Bush, Kiran Duwadi, Scott Roberts, and Andrew Wise, FCC

Study 3: Effect of Ownership Structure and Robustness on the Quantity and Quality of TV Programming

Description: This study will analyze the effect of ownership structure and robustness (as described in Study 2) on various measures of the quantity and the quality of different types of TV programming, including local news and public affairs, minority programming, children’s programming, family programming, religious programming, and violent and indecent content.

Author: Gregory Crawford, University of Arizona

Study 4: News Operations

Description: This study will collect data on the size and scope of the news operations of radio and television stations and newspapers. It will also analyze the relationship between the nature of the news operations and market characteristics, including ownership structure and robustness.

Authors: Kenneth Lynch, Daniel Shiman, and Craig Stroup, FCC

Study 5: Station Ownership and Programming in Radio

Description: This study will use station-level data to examine how ownership structure affects the programming and audience of radio stations.

Author: Tasneem Chipty, CRAI

Study 6: News Coverage of Cross-Owned Newspapers and Television Stations

Description: This study will examine the effect of newspaper cross-ownership on television news coverage using matched pairs of cross-owned and non-cross-owned television stations.

Author: Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri

Study 7 & 8: Minority Ownership

Description: These two studies will examine levels of minority ownership of media companies and barriers to entry.

Authors: Arie Bersteanu and Paul Ellickson, Duke University
Authors: Allen Hammond, Santa Clara University and Barbara O’Connor, California State University, Sacramento

Study 9: Vertical Integration

Description: This study will examine levels of vertical integration in the media industry.

Author: Austan Goolsbee, University of Chicago

Study 10: Radio Industry Review: Trends in Ownership, Format, and Finance

Description: This study will update a study done during our last review of the media ownership rules. That study was titled “Radio Industry Review 2002: Trends in Ownership, Format, and Finance.”

Author: George Williams, FCC



Any FCC decision that could fundamentally reshape the nation’s media environment must be reached through a process that is open and transparent to the American people. Today’s announcement of the Commission’s new media ownership studies, unfortunately, 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.

article originally published at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-268606A1.doc.

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