FCC unveils marketplace studies

The FCC has released 12 studies on the current media marketplace. FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell created the Media Ownership Working Group last November. The group studied the media marketplace so as to improve the FCC’s knowledge database and improve the commission’s ability to make informed media policy decisions. The study found that the number of media outlets, radio and television stations, newspapers, cable systems and DBS operators have increased in the top ten markets by 195 percent since 1960. The reports also said that independent owners of those outlets have increased by 139 percent.

Among the findings, as interpreted by the FCC:

  • Broadcast television's viewing share continued its decline over the last 11 years, dropping during the 1990-2001 period by 31 percent all-day and 33 percent in primetime over all households. The broadcast share of video advertising revenue dropped by only 21 percent. But, broadcast advertising revenue also rose every year since 1990 with the exception of 2001.
  • DBS and the expansion in cable availability and channel capacity have created an increasingly competitive environment for television broadcasting. This will lead to continuing audience fragmentation and further pressure on broadcast advertising revenue. The increasing competition for program production resources has led to an increase in production costs. The future profitability of the broadcast industry will depend on how it responds to competition and cost pressures, and on whether it can harness new technologies such as DTV and interactive services to its benefit.
  • The number of media outlets (television and radio stations, newspapers, cable systems, and DBS operators) available to consumers in 10 surveyed markets has increased by an average of 195 percent since 1960, and the number of independent owners of those outlets has increased by 139 percent.
  • Network O&Os produced an average of 23 percent more local news and public affairs programming than did network affiliates. Newspaper-owned affiliate stations outperformed other affiliates in all measures of news program quality and total output per week.
  • The FCC’s financial interest and syndication (“fin-syn”) rules on broadcast network television did not improve program diversity. In the program selection process, the broadcast networks are influenced to a significant extent by the financial incentives associated with the ownership of programming.

For more information visit http://www.fcc.gov/ownership/studies.html.

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