FCC to investigate CBS newsroom consolidation

The FCC will investigate efforts by CBS to consolidate newsrooms as well as ongoing negotiations between the network and the Writers Guild of America, East and West, according to a U.S. congressman from New York.

Word of the commission action came on Tuesday from the office of Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who in August 2006 requested that the FCC look into the network's desire to consolidate newsrooms, terminate workers in the event of mergers and remove news producers from bargaining units.

Following Hinchey's request for an investigation, CBS withdrew its demand to remove news producers from bargaining units, but consolidation remains in play, said the congressman's office.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin responded to Hinchey in a letter saying the commission has requested a report from both parties on the matters and will respond to the congressman after receiving the reports.

CBS and the Writers Guild of America, East and West, are negotiating a contract that would extend their 50-year working relationship in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

"I hope that the FCC will ensure that corporate interests stay out of newsrooms so the American public can be on the receiving end of journalism, not direct or indirect corporate promotion," Hinchey said. "Any further consolidation of newsrooms and attacks on journalists would be contrary to the best interests of the public."