FCC buried report showing local TV owners provide more local news

by Craig Aaron, Stop Big Media

At yesterday’s Senate reconfirmation hearing for FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, California Democrat Barbara Boxer expressed outrage that the FCC had suppressed a two-year-old study showing that locally owned stations produce more local news than those owned by media giants.

StopBigMedia.com has obtained a copy of the draft report – and it’s a blockbuster.

Titled “Do Local Owners Do More Localism? Some Evidence from Local Broadcast News,” the study shows locally owned stations produced five-and-a-half minutes more local news in a half-hour newscast than their consolidated competitors — meaning 33 more hours of local news per year.

The study also found:

Locally owned stations also aired 3.5 more minutes’ worth of on-location local news reports than non-locally owned stations.
Network owned and operated stations (those owned by ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) aired significantly less local news.
Owners who controlled stations in multiple markets aired less local news content.
Station owners who also control newspapers did not air more local news content.
Owners who also controlled radio stations aired significantly less local TV news content.

The report was originally commissioned in 2004 by former Chairman Michael Powell – who hoped to show that media concentration didn’t impact localism. But when his own researchers found the opposite result, he buried the results.

Someone leaked a copy to Senator Boxer – who scolded the agency for failing to make such significant findings public.

“Now this is not a matter or national security, for God’s sake,” Boxer said. “This is important information about issues that are key to the people. So I don’t understand who deep-sixed this thing. I’m going to get to the bottom of it and find out if any commissioners saw this.”

Martin – who was a commissioner at the time — denied any knowledge of the study but promised to read it and fold it into the long-mothballed localism proceeding started by Powell.

Click here to read the full report

article originally published at http://www.stopbigmedia.com/blog/.

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