Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Sock Puppet Revue

Not content to be turning tricks just for the phone companies, the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) is now pimping its "experts" to Big Media broadcasters as well.

And it appears that their boys are worth the price. This think-tank-for-hire today released what it is calling a definitive study that "debunks US 'media monopoly' fears." Its findings are already being cited by suckers in the media.

This Space To Let
"It is a myth that U.S. media ownership is over concentrated today and that programming choices available to American consumers are shrinking or somehow have been impaired," NMRC claims. This insightful conclusion comes from the study's author, Harvard-educated Jezebel Benjamin M. Compaine, described in their press release as an "MIT media consultant" and author of 12 "major" books on media issues.

These wind-up academics and their blue chip clientelle are still trying to convince us that media monopoly is good for America. And I thought the American public sank that boat in 2003.

Not so, according to Compaine:

"There is no support for the contention that media ownership by chains or conglomerates leads to any consistent pattern of lowered standards, content, or performance when compared with media owned by families or small companies."
How convenient for the companies that funded Compaine's analysis. By coincidence, this list includes the same media conglomerates that Compaine praises in his new study.

One look at the money behind the study, and Compaine's academic rigor comes off more as a Big Media lap dance. Lurking behind the facade of the NMRC is Issue Dynamics, Inc., a "public affairs consulting firm" that fronts for Comcast, Fleishman-Hillard, Qwest, Qualcomm, SBC Communications, Sprint and Verizon. By "public affairs" Issue Dynamics means "public relations" and by "consulting" they mean "shilling."

Any report emanating from their coin-operated think tank should be handled with steel tongs and a rubber suit.

John Rintels, whose work at Center for Creative Voices in the Media is inaccurately cited in Compaine's report, gave the study two thumbs down:
". . . to say it is a hatchet job is an insult to hatchets. This is pure polemic argument, bought and paid for by Big Media, not any 'report.' When the author's argument stumbles across inconvenient facts, statistics, and research, he ignores them, as they get in the way of his 'Monopoly Myth' theme that media reformers' case against Big Media has been made up out of thin air and then endlessly repeated, until it ultimately attains mythical status."
This Space To Let
To put fresh lipstick on this pig, the NMRC trots out sock-puppet-in-chief Adam Thierer, formerly of Verizon friendly Cato Institute, now selling his services as the industry mouthpiece for the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF). Thierer often sings on cue for PFF's Big Media client list, which includes Disney, NBC, NCTA, Time Warner, Viacom and Vivendi.

In the NMRC release, Thierer strokes fellow propagandist Compaine: "[Benjamin] has shown that the media sky has never been brighter," effuses Thierer. "His seminal earlier research, and this latest NMRC report, provide conclusive proof that the media marketplace is far more dynamic and competitive than at any time in history."

The Blinkered Bozo Award goes to the first journalist to cite either Thierer's or Compaine's "conclusive proof" without revealing that these two are in bed with the industry they're supposed to analyze.

We'll be monitoring the news wires to anoint the first scribes to make a move on this tarted-up corporate propaganda.

And the contestants for Blinkered Bozo are:

One reporter smelled a skunk:

Stay tuned. Results are still rolling in.

To learn more about the ways coin-operated think tanks skew the community broadband debate to their corporate masters' liking, read my reports at MediaCitizen. (Thanks to Andrew Schwartzman at Media Access Project for the tip).


Timothy Karr said...

Adam Thierer emails me at length:

Subject: thought on all this "sock puppet" nonsense


First of all, thanks for drawing people’s attention to my work on your blog. As I learned long ago, even bad publicity is good publicity! Second, since you don’t know me, or anything about my motives regarding why I do what I do, let me just take a second to tell you a few things about me if you’re going to be writing so much about me.

I care about human freedom. Passionately. I believe we live in a constitutional republic where the power of government was rightly limited by our Founding Founders. I make no bones about the fact that when the choice is between more government versus less, I will always opt for the latter. In my particular field of policy study—high-technology and media policy—I apply this vision every day to everything I do. These days, as Director of PFF’s Center for Digital Media Freedom, I apply this vision to the media sector and attempt to maximize the scope of freedom both in an economic sense and a speech sense.

Now, let me get to your ‘sock-puppet’ allegations. First, I hear this all the time from critics both on the Left and the Right. I generally have three responses:

(1) The think tank world is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Believe me, I have spent 15 years in the think tank world working at four different think tanks and I can tell you that I’ll never be featured on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”! Indeed, like almost everyone else I meet on both the Left and the Right in the think tank world, I’m in this business because I care passionately about advancing a specific vision or cause, NOT because somebody is paying me to be here. It’s a labor of love. My wife is still cursing the fact that I haven’t found a way to “cash-in” like everyone else in this town and land a cushy lobbying job somewhere. But she knows I could not live with myself if I did so since I never compromise my principles.

(2) While some of the think tanks I have worked for did not disclose their financial supporters, as you probably know, PFF does. Ironically, many groups on the left do not disclose their funding sources and get away with it. I find this particularly troubling when some of the funding comes from government sources. Why is it that on this muni issue that no one talks about Intel’s role in financing pro-municipalization efforts? Why are the people and the groups supporting wi-fi municipalization not “sock puppets of Intel”? (Also, Intel is a PFF supporter and yet we have a difference of opinion with them on that particular issue. Does that count for anything in your book? And we get money from some media operators that hold broadcast licenses and yet have a long track record of privatizing spectrum, ending the foolish DTV transition, and cutting off their “must carry” privileges. Does that count for something with you? Perhaps not, but I would hope it would prove to you that we are not beholden to any “corporate line” on these issues.)

(3) Finally, I want to draw your attention to my extensive work with groups and individuals on the Left in our fight to advance freedom of speech and _expression. I work tirelessly with others to defend the First Amendment from government attacks. [Please check this stuff out if you are interested] In fact, for the past few months, I’ve been working closely with representatives from the ACLU, People for the American Way, Media Access Project, and many other Left-leaning organizations, to see how we can work together to stop “indecency” regulations from being imposed on cable and satellite television the same way we worked together 10 years ago to fight the Communications Decency Act. Almost every week a group of us go up to Capitol Hill together to meet with Democrats and Republicans to try to convince them to stop this insane indecency witch hunt. So, let me ask you: Are all of us participating in this effort nothing more than corporate stooges for Big Media? Some on the Right think we are (or at least I am). Check out this column by Brent Bozell of the Parents Television Council talking about how I apparently only defend free speech because someone supposedly paid me to do so. Geez, couldn’t it be the case that I actually believe in this cause! Why do some people find it so hard to believe that others might actually stand on principle and defend the First Amendment because freedom of speech is one of our most sacred rights?!

Anyway, I could go on, but you get the point: I believe in advancing a specific vision and set of principles about the way the world should work. You might not agree with them, but I ask you to consider whether it makes any sense to label me (or PFF) a “sock-puppet” on these issues, but then not do the same on other issues where we might actually agree (like freedom of speech issues). And why not label others on the Left “sock puppets” when the do things that might be viewed as favorable to industry? For example, two years ago, I asked Harold Feld of the Media Access Project to contribute a chapter on ICANN / domain name policy to a book I was editing on Internet governance for the Cato Institute. He penned a wonderful chapter blasting the current ICANN system (another issue besides free speech where Harold and I are in 100% agreement). Anyway, when the book was released, the folks over at VeriSign were absolutely ecstatic about Harold’s chapter and ordered dozens of copies of the book and reprinted the chapter for distribution on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. So, was Harold labeled a VeriSign “sock puppet”? No, people knew he was penning that chapter from a point of principle. Now if I would have penned that chapter instead, would I have been labeled a “sock puppet”? I bet so. (Incidentally, at the time Harold penned that paper for me, Cato was not receiving any money from VeriSign and I sincerely doubt that Harold was getting any money from them either). [Incidentally, Harold and I remain friendly to this day and I have a great deal of respect for him (and Andy) even though we disagree on many important issues. I encourage you to seek out their opinion of me to see if it is similar.]

Finally, if it is your belief that ANY non-profit institution that receives ANY money from a corporation is a “sock-puppet” that cannot be taken seriously, I would suggest that you have a beef with a hell of lot more people in this world than just me. Again, plenty of groups on the Left get money from various corporate interests, but no one ever seems to report on this.

Why the double standard? Do you actually believe that only people on the Left might stand on principle and be able to speak independently even if they get some corporate funding?

I just wanted to pass these thoughts along. I really don’t care what you label me in your articles. In fact, a wise man taught me long ago that if the best your intellectual opponents can muster against you is a baseless ad homonym attack, then you were in pretty good shape and would have the upper hand in the battle of ideas.

If everyone on the Left wants to say I’m just a corporate stooge and just dismiss my arguments out of hand, let them. Meanwhile, the battle of ideas goes on and I will keep fighting for the principles I believe in.

I wish you the best in your intellectual pursuits even if we may disagree passionately about how best to order human affairs.

Sincerely, Adam Thierer

Timothy Karr said...


Thanks for that. I'm not questioning that you believe your beliefs. I am pleased that you have found a professional setting where they merge so efficiently with those of most of the corporations that punch your meal ticket. I do, however, question journalists who cite you and PFF "studies" without also revealing this financial support network. It would seem any reporter worth his/her weight would want to enlighten readers about possible conflicts of interest.

If you truly believe that media consolidation fosters a more diverse, democratic (small "d") and free media, then you're at the right place.

If you have any evidence to that effect I'd be happy to skewer it.

At the same time I'll be sending you our many reports to the otherwise.


Anonymous said...

Hello Tim,

A note from Adam's colleague here, Patrick Ross, who in more than a decade of journalism wrote all the time about funding and won some journalism rewards for that coverage. (I won't bore readers with details here, e-mail me if you'd like more info on the stories/awards.)

If you want to launch a crusade for transparency in reporting, go for it. I hope you don't just ask that opponents of your world view have their sources revealed, however, but that all groups have their funding revealed. I found as a reporter that it was more difficult to determine the funding of so-called "consumer" groups; for one thing, unlike PFF, they don't list their donors online.

Most of these groups receive corporate donations (Public Knowledge's Gigi Sohn recently said she aims for 1/3 corporate funding and prefers it to foundation funding because corporations "demand a lot less"). ($1100) But Gigi doesn't post her funders online; there's no way for a reporter to know who her corporate funders are.

Foundation grants are also critical. PFF receives general-interest funding only; we're not hired to do specific research projects or tasks. Foundations are more demanding with their gifts. If you visit the web sites of the big foundations -- Rockefeller, Open Society, etc. -- you'll see that grants require specific work in specific subject areas in specific time frames. In other words, the foundations have a pre-determined world view and want their funding recipients to perform work toward that world view.

Is that wrong? I'm not saying it is. But shouldn't a reporter note every foundation grant a "consumer group" receives related to whatever they're pushing, say muni wi-fi? And how is the reporter to note that when the group doesn't disclose its funding? (You thank Media Access Project for your "tip"; in all the years I covered them I never was able to get a good grasp on who was funding them.)

Transparency is good. But if you plan to be the Fourth Estate's ombudsman, please push for funding identification for EVERY organization cited in a story.



Timothy Karr said...

Adam responds again:


My new big book on media ownership (Media Myths: Making Sense of the Debate over Media Ownership) will be out next month. I’m sure you’ll hate ever word of it. But I thought I’d give you fair warning so you can start thinking of nasty things to say about it without even reading it. Certainly you can come up with something better than “sock-puppet.” That is just soooo 1950’s-ish.

And as far as labeling journalists “bozos” who quote me, I strongly encourage you to keep doing so since those folks will never be calling you again for comment on anything. So that makes my life easier.

And regarding journalists labeling us “corporate-funded” … they do all the time and we don’t try to hide it. But I would hope the same would be true of the corporate-funded Brookings Institution, the Soros-funded New America Foundation, and so on. I think that would only be fair, right? Unless you believe in double standards.

Timothy Karr said...

Jeff Chester forwards his comments from an article in Communications Daily:

"It's a myth that media ownership is overconcentrated and programming choices are shrinking, said a report issued by New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) and written by MIT media consultant Benjamin Compaine. Amid court challenges to FCC media ownership rules, the study found that fear of media control of program choice reflects 'outdated notions' of how consumers use media. The old Big 3 broadcast networks -- ABC, NBC and CBS -- have seen prime-time ratings slide almost 2/3 since the 1970s. On a typical weekday evening 30 years go, 56% of households watched the 3 networks. By 2003, that rating was 20%, the report found. Even with WB and Fox, today's 5 broadcast networks tally a 51% total rating. Another mark of diversity: Large markets sometimes
have 15 or more radio station owners. The report found no evidence that media ownership chains or conglomerates
lead to lower standards, content or performance when compared with family-owned or small media companies. Because NMRC receives funding from Issue Dynamics, 'such industry-sponsored studies must be dismissed as pure propaganda,' said Center for Digital Democracy Exec. Dir. Jeff Chester. The group shouldn't be considered scholarly
because it lacks the independence required of 'serious academic work,' he said."

Nonprofit and Government Consulting said...


Love the Blinkered Bozo awards!

So if Adam wants less government then he will join us in blocking Verizon and SBC's attempts to pass anti-municipal broadband legislation?


Anonymous said...

I'm noticing some common themes in these non-denial denials popping up around the net. The talking points seem to be:

∙ We also do work for causes you pinko commies are interested in and you're not bitching about that, are you?

∙ Why do y'all have your panties in a bundle about transparency? Anyone can find who's paying us if they're smart enough to navigate the series of links on our homepage.

∙ You critics are only interested in shooting the messenger. In fact, your incivility has made us so verklempt we are unable to address your specific criticisms.

Timothy Karr said...

Can't wait to read Adam's upcoming book. I'm available to blurb. And I'll do it for free.

BenMC said...


Like Adam Thierer, I’m pleased that you gave my study coverage, though with predictable reaction, I’m afraid. But you have proven one of my points—media such as yours and dozens of other Blogs and Web sites provide a vibrancy of diverse ideas and opinions that was absolutely a dream 15 years ago.

I have noticed a pattern to the criticism so far—it has been about the source of the money. I have seen no evidence that anyone has actually read the thing, just the press release. I write and provide credible data that says we have more choices rather than less. There are more major television networks today than when Ben Bagdikian first wrote Media Monopoly in 1983. Those five hold a smaller audience than the traditional three networks had. Is that consolidation? But all that and more is in the paper.

I don't know where NMRC gets its money. I do know that, starting in 1978 with the usual assumption that the media were growing more concentrated when I first put together the first edition of Who Owns the Media, I have been producing academic-caliber research (that is, published by reviewed journals and academic conferences). I certainly didn't write the NMRC piece to please their consistency, whoever it is. Far more likely I was funded to write what I wanted to write because they know of my previous publications. I have never been a consultant for any media company (though I worked for a small Mom and Pop newsletter and book publisher in the late 1970s) and have never been a paid consultant to any substantial media company. (When I was a research director at Harvard our program was funded by small contributions from a diverse group of about 100 information industry companies, government agencies and foundations, none of whom got any proprietary work in return).

If you all want to debate the issue, great (as Robert McChesney and I were asked to do in a wonderful series at, should you have missed that). But resorting to guilt by association, name calling (as some have indulged in) and nit picking trivializes the issue and a serious piece of research. Could you help raise the standard of discourse?

Anonymous said...


These "think tanks" whose opinions and reports invariably support the interest groups that,coincidentally,
fund them would be nothing but laughable if they weren't so damaging to our country.

To the gentlemen who posted in opposition to Tim's piece -

Methinks though doth protest too much.

Anonymous said...

Typo of the day!

Sorry - make that "thou".

Timothy Karr said...

Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America writes:

"With regard to the Compaine study. I have debated him on these facts four times in the past two years. This analysis was completely rejected by the courts for a good reason. Most of the evidence he cites was in the record on which the court based its decision to reject the rules.

"It is almost entirely about entertainment, not news and public affairs.

"To the extent it deals with news and public affairs, it is almost entirely about national and international, not local. You cannot learn much about Minneapolis in the New York Times, or visa versa.

"The fact that people have access to the web does not change the fact that broadcasters, who have access to the web, also still have the use of powerful and scarce electronic voices.

"He generally wants to count outlets, not audiences. Where he uses audience numbers, he plays a shell game.

"Figure 3, which shows the network rating tries to give the impression that prime time programming is not concentrated (5 firms have 51%). He uses this to impeach the claim that five firms have 80+%. His figures are not based on the prime time audience. In fact, during any given hour on any given night during prime time, about 40% of American households do not have their TVs on. They are not part of the audience. If you adjust Compaine's numbers for audience (51%/.6 = 85%) you find that five firms dominate the prime time audience. This number is consistent with their share of programming budgets and writing budgets.

"One can pick apart each of this analyses, but is it worth the effort? . . ."

Timothy Karr said...
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Timothy Karr said...

Jonathan Rintels emails:

I’m sure – at least I hope – that others are mounting a broader critique of this paper than I’m offering here. But as I started reading and seeing myself quoted repeatedly out of context and incompletely, I thought I’d make a few notes to share with the group.

1. Compaine: “There is no support for the contention that media ownership by chains or conglomerates leads to any consistent pattern of lowered standards, content, or performance when compared with media owned by families or small companies.” P.1 of Executive Summary

Rintels: To the contrary, Creative Voices is gathering data that shows a very consistent pattern of “lowered standards, content, or performance when compared with media owned by families or small companies.” According to our preliminary review of FCC data, which is readily available to Compaine or any other member of the public, in radio for the years 2000-2003, according to FCC indecency stats:

Clear Channel owned 10.87% of radio stations in US and had 27% share of nationwide listeners, yet received 50.57% of the FCC indecency NALs (Notice of Apparent Liability).Viacom owned 1.71% of radio stations in US and had 15.4% share of nationwide listeners, yet received 21.84% of the FCC indecency NALs.


Thus, contrary to the statement in the report, there does indeed appear to be a “consistent pattern of lowered standards, content, or performance when compared with media owned by families or small companies.” I’ll leave it to others to rebut that assertion on the basis of local news and civic affairs. But just try telling it to the people of Minot, North Dakota.

2. Compaine: “It is regularly contended that “five large corporations” control 80 percent of the prime time television audience” and thus control how and what information people have access to.” Footnote for this skeptical comment: “I have seen the 5 companies = 80% content figure bandied about. In this case the source is David Hatch, “Media Ownership,” CQ Research, Oct 10, 2003, p. 845. However, Hatch cites back to Marc Fisher, “Sounds Familiar For a Reason,” The Washington Post, May 18, 2003, Outlook Section. Accessed July 16, 2004 at This article, however, says that five companies “boast 75 percent of primetime TV viewers” which is at odds with the 80% figure of Hatch. Either way, this figure represents the share of the TV audience at that moment. It ignores the 40% of households that may be using other media (reading books, listening to CDs, etc.) or using no media. And it measures households, not people. (P.2)

Rintels: It’s hard to believe that Compaine is unaware of the source of these figures: respected independent media analysts Tom Wolzien and Mark Mackenzie of Sanford Bernstein, in their research report, “Returning Oligopoly of Media Content Threatens Cable’s Power,” dated February 7, 2003, which states: “Programming Oligopoly Reforming: Together, the five companies controlled about a 75% share of prime-time viewing, not including their nonconsolidated partnerships like A&E, Court TV and Comedy Central…” Another section notes, “This number would increase to 85% if independent and joint-venture services are consolidated with the big five — a likely event over the next few years as weaker cable networks are hammered on price. At that point, five programming giants would split roughly the same number of rating points controlled by ABC, CBS and NBC during television’s “golden age.” Compaine tries to impeach these statistics by not citing their true, respected, and independent source, instead seeming to imply some reporters pulled them out of thin air and they were then “bandied about” like some urban legend with no basis in fact. Yet, it’s hard to believe Compaine was unfamiliar with the Wolzien/Mackenzie study. On his p.3, he cites other research of theirs that supports his case. And as he appears to be such a fan of Creative Voices’ work, which I’ll address below, and we cited the Wolzien/Mackenzie study repeatedly in our work – again, either this is sloppy or intentionally deceitful.

3. Compaine, citing Creative Voices’ filing with the FCC: “Actually, there is less a debate than an explicit assumption that ownership in the media industry has become more concentrated despite the new technologies and industries that have joined the older print, and broadcast and motion picture sectors. The Footnote 17 for this assertion states: “For example: “Today, a remarkable number of leading Americans of all political and ideological stripes are joining that call, expressing grave concerns about the harmful effects of media concentration on our nation’s democracy and culture.” Jonathan Rintels, Reply Comments of the Center for the Creative Community…” p.5

Rintels: Compaine portrays our comment as a bald assertion with no basis in fact, as if pulled out of thin air – another urban legend. He fails to point out that we then quote the following people of all political and ideological stripes to support our statement: Sen. Mike DeWine (R), Sen. Herb Kohl (D), William Safire (R), Ted Turner (D), Peter Bart (D, probably, editor of Daily Variety). I don’t know how we left McCain out of that list, but indeed, “a remarkable number of leading Americans of all political and ideological stripes are joining that call, expressing grave concerns about the harmful effects of media concentration…”

4. Compaine: “Five conglomerates, we are told, “control most prime time TV programming and one company…dominates radio.” Those in the “creative community” of packagers, directors, writers for television, etc. complain that “these conglomerates strongly favor their own in-house production when ordering new shows, whether their shows are better or not.”

Rintels: Again, Compaine uses the same “urban legend” rhetorical device of attempting to diminish the argument by asserting “we are told…” as if there’s no evidence to back up what we’re being told. He fails to disclose our evidence: the Wolzien/Mackenzie report for the “five conglomerates” and the research study of William T. Bielby and Denise D. Bielby, Sociology Department, University of California, Santa Barbara, “Controlling Primetime: Organizational Concentration And Network Television Programming Strategies,” which was attached as Table 1 to our FCC comments. This study shows that the amount of programming owned by the networks themselves in primetime went from 12.5% in 1990 to 77.5% in 2002. Again, highly misleading if not downright deceitful.

5. Compaine cites the work of Professor Mara Einstein, a former NBC exec, who was contracted by the FCC to do a research study on diversity in television, for the proposition that there is more diversity in TV today than when independent producers made the programs.

Rintels: Professor Einstein, in a subsequent column in Broadcasting & Cable Magazine, called for "more, not less, regulation" of television to preserve viewpoint diversity and chastised the FCC for using her work to justify relaxation of the ownership limits. Hard to believe Compaine, an alleged media expert, was not aware of her column.

6. Compaine cites the Schurz Communications case in which Judge Posner threw out the rules that required the networks to acquire programming from independent producers, saying: “In a parenthetical-like remark at the end of the ruling he (Posner) noted that “reruns are the antithesis of diversity.” This has been jumped on by the Center for the Creative Voices in Media…”

Rintels: Same rhetorical device – diminish the argument by calling it a “parenthetical-like remark,” which it wasn’t, by the way. But of course, Posner was right. And, duh, of course we jumped on it. Because networks ran the shows they owned first on the mother ship broadcast network, then reran them almost immediately – and repeatedly – on their network-owned cable networks. Cable was supposed to promote diversity. By virtue of their ownership of both programming and cable networks, conglomerates instead used cable to deal a double whammy to diversity. We had a problem with that. And we think Posner would have as well.

7. Compaine notes that “players who have a stake in the outcome of the ownership battles could certainly be expected to promote what’s in their own best interest. The example of the newspaper unions was one. The writers and directors and associates who support the advocacy of the Center for Creative Voices in Media are another example.”

Rintels: Fair enough. But he fails to mention that Big Media has by far the greatest financial interest in these issues. And he fails to disclose that his “Media Monopoly Myth" report was financed by the media oligopoly through the "New Millennium Research Council." Well, we can only speak for Creative Voices. But we'd gladly trade the support he got from Big Media, via this front group, for all the support we've ever gotten from the Creative Community, which is a matter of public record for us as we're a nonprofit 501(c)(3).

Bottom line here: Compaine’s is not a “report,” as he terms it, but a polemic that is sloppy, disingenuous, and possibly even intentionally deceitful.

BenMC said...

Understanding that no one here is gong to convinced by anything I say, I do want to enter into this thread a few responses to Mark Cooper and Jonathan Rintels.

First, Mark takes issue with my use of ratings instead of share for television audience measurement. At least now that’s some substance to talk about. I’m not using ratings to “impeach” anything, other than the assumption that we have fewer rather than more in television. Next time we share a platform we can discuss whether ratings or share are the more valid metric for viewership. I hold ratings are the better measure of what the mass audience is doing with its eyes and ears at any time. I am measuring apples to apples: in the 1970s 56% of households tuned to three networks from three owners. In 2003 51% of households tuned to dozens of networks from five owners.  My only point is that there are more players, not fewer, while more people are apparently doing something else during prime time that in the past. Did you see that on 19 nights since September the number one rated network among 18-34 year olds was Univision? As I said, next time we are on a program, Mark….

Next, to Jonathan. I make no bald assertions. I am drawing some implications. I also provide a full link to your report so that anyone can see the full context of your data and arguments. (And ain;t it wonderful—until a few years ago, anyone who wanted to check out this footnote would have had to go to the trouble of calling or writing your organization, you would have had to go to the expense of printing and mailing them a copy. Or they would need access to the FCC reading room. Today, it’s an inexpensive link and click away.).

You say that "It's hard to believe" I am not aware of certain other data writing from Wolzien or Einstein. Well, become a believer. My life is not centered around the issue of media ownership. I have no university appointment that subsidizes my research. I have no salary or retainer from a foundation, advocacy groups or anyone else. I teach a few part time courses on strategic planning and management at the local campus of the University of Phoenix. I written about "New Literacy" and the technology for broadband access in rural areas. So, not being a client of Wolzien’s firm, I don’t have access to his work. In researching this study I was looking for historic Nielsen data. I found out that Wolzien had some in one of his reports and he kindly gave me access. But I did not think it necessary to read everything else he has written. The Einstein data I found in an issue of The Journal of Media Economics. Einstein, like Wolzien, may look at the same data and draw different conclusions. Glass half full I conclude. Glass half empty she might conclude. Same data.

Finally, I am curious what Tim and readers of this Blog have thought about the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s comprehensive study, “Does Ownership Matter in Local Television News.” No tool of Big Media they. The study had very complex findings on both sides of the issue they nvestigated, including that “Local ownership offered little protection against newscasts being very poor, and did not produce superior quality." Stations owned by the largest group's had highest quality early evening newscasts, while stations of smaller groups had better late evening newscasts.

I've never seen a pancake so thin it didn't have two sides.

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