FCC Ignored “Inconvenient Facts” On Franchise Ruling
John Dunbar of the AP updates ongoing investigation into a 2003 study spiked by the FCC because it didn’t reach the pre-appoved conclusion:
When the government decided to take a hard look at how well broadcasters were serving the needs of the communities where they operated, two economists at the Federal Communications Commission got a research idea: They would look at whether locally owned TV stations produced more local news than stations that were owned by companies based outside the area.
They found that local ownership resulted in more local news coverage — hardly a shocking conclusion. They also realized they had turned up what one of the researchers, economist Keith Brown, called “inconvenient facts.” Their findings were at odds with what their agency, under heavy lobbying from the broadcast industry, had endorsed.
The months-long study was spiked by the agency with “no plausible explanation,” Brown says. He suspects it was because the conclusions were at odds with the shared position of the FCC and the broadcast industry: that media-ownership rules were too restrictive and should be loosened.
The recent transfer of the Clear Channel cluster of local radio stations should provide an instructive look at this theory. Jeff Shapiro of Great Eastern Radio told me his “local yokel” partner left the area’s NBC affiliate when it folded into a New York station. Anyone who’ s watched WNNE since they moved their news operations across the border knows that it’s a shadow of its former self.
Courtney Galluzzo spent 20 years as WNNE’s GM of Sales, so his contribution to the new group of stations should be interesting.Clear Channel, Eastern States Radio, FCC, Jeff Shapiro, Media Ownership