Powell Says He Knew Nothing of Study

Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell said Friday that he had "never seen" a localism study --that a former FCC staffers says was suppressed in 2004--"did not know about it before yesterday [Sept. 14]," and "never ordered anything destroyed," according to a statement relayed by his personal assistant Friday.

Former Media Bureau staff attorney Adam Candeub how alleges that the study, which concluded that locally owned news operations produce more local news than network-owned stations or "nonlocally owned" ones, was ordered destroyed by FCC officials.

A copy of the study surfaced in the hands of media consolidation critic Senator Barbara Boxer during Martin's renomination hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this week. Boxer asked the FCC to investigate why it was not made a part of an ongoing broadcast ownership proceeding and who had tried to suppress it.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has said he was not aware of the study, as did 2004 Media Bureau Chief Ken Ferree. Martin pointed out that he had not been chairman when the study was prepared. He has since told Boxer that he has looked at the study, found it relevant, and has now made it part of the ongoing localism and media ownership reviews.

The study is a working paper and the FCC produces numerous drafts of various kinds. It does not feel under an affirmative obligation to release everything it produces, though Candeub said the directive had been not just to stop work on the study but to throw it away and delete copies from computers.

The study contradicted one the FCC had used the year before to justify seeking an increase of the national ownership cap, which would allow network station groups to own more stations. Congress ultimately raised the cap in statute, though not as much as the Powell FCC had wanted.