Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cover-Up: FCC Bureaucrat Buried Evidence to Protect Friends in Big Media

Big Mike
We have just learned that former FCC Chairman Michael Powell buried a federal study that found media consolidation was harmful to local news reporting.

Powell suppressed the 2004 study to protect the interests of his friends in the corporate media lobby. It revealed that locally owned stations produced more local news than those owned by media giants -- such as ABC/Disney, Fox Television, Viacom and Sinclair Broadcast Group..

Free Press received the secret study today after it was leaked to Congress. News of the cover-up comes at a time when Powell's successor, Chairman Kevin Martin, seeks to hand over control of more local news outlets to massive media conglomerates.

Powell commissioned the study in hopes it would show that consolidated ownership didn't negatively impact local communities. The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon that upon seeing the results, Powell ordered that "every last piece" of the study be destroyed.

The study that Michael Powell didn't want you to see: "Do Local Owners Deliver More Localism?" 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. It also found that Network owned and operated stations (those owned by ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) aired significantly less local news.

The report was an inconvenience to Powell's ongoing efforts to aide large media companies' that sought to gobble up more local media outlets and further consolidate their power over America's media system. Had the report seen the light of day, Powell could not deny that locally owned media do a better job of covering local news.

While Powell has left the FCC, his legacy is being carried forward by Martin. The new chairman has made it clear that he intends to side with Big Media interests in the current rewrite of FCC ownership rules.

In July, Martin kick started the latest effort to rewrite FCC rules when he asked the public to comment on his plans to let conglomerates buy up more local news outlets. You can file you comments at the FCC via this link:

The only way to stop media is through public involvement in the rule making. Act now to rollback media consolidation and defend local control of our media.

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