10.23.2006 08:00 AM
Study says FCC media ownership rules will harm local communities

Local communities across the nation will be harmed, and have fewer choices, if the FCC loosens key limits on media ownership, says new research by the Media and Democracy Coalition (MDC), a consumer advocacy organization.

New research was conducted by MDC member organizations in twelve states: California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Washington, Oregon, Arkansas, Virginia, Montana and Maine. It found that in every one of those states, most citizens already lived in highly concentrated media markets with few choices for news.

Additional media mergers in these “highly concentrated” markets will reduce already insufficient local news coverage and eliminate diverse voices and viewpoints and, in every case, exceed U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Merger Guidelines, the research found. Yet, the group said, the FCC would approve these mergers with “no questions asked” under its proposed new rules.

“It is simply not acceptable that the Federal Communications Commission would approve a local media merger with ‘no questions asked,’ when that same merger exceeds U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Merger Guidelines,” said Gene Kimmelman, vice president for federal and international policy at Consumers Union, an MDC member.

According to study author Mark Cooper, director of research for MDC member Consumer Federation of America, this study in correlation with FCC research makes it clear that further relaxation of ownership limits by the FCC is not in the public interest, and would weaken those markets’ abilities to provide diversity in local news.

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