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07.21.2003
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Public fearful of media ownership

A year ago media ownership issues were a blank on the public’s radar screen. Now, with the issue getting far more attention, Americans are fearful of proposed FCC changes, a new survey has found.

The public has been increasingly concerned in recent years about the independence of the press. New rules passed by the FCC allowing more concentrated ownership appears to have heightened those fears, says a new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Half of those participating in that poll—50 percent—said they think allowing media companies to own more broadcast and newspaper operations in the same city will have a negative effect. Only 10 percent said that would have a positive effect.

Seven in 10 people, the poll found, think news organizations are often influenced by powerful people and organizations. “Over the last 20 years, people have had growing doubts about whether the press is really independent or influenced by powerful forces,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. “They have growing concerns about that influence.”

Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, said the worries about the new ownership rules are probably related to “the suspicion the public has about corporate power.”

The poll of 1,201 adults was taken from June 19 to July 2 and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

For more information, visit the Pew Research Center at www.people-press.org.

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