Study Haul

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What is it with the FCC and its "diametrically opposed study" syndrome.

First it was the a la carte study. Under Powell, the FCC produced a study that concluded that the a la carte cable business model would not work because the industry needed to package its service just as, say, a newspaper needs to package its sections or a mall's smaller stores need the anchor retailers to drive traffic.

Think of it as the ESPN as Norstrom's model.

Martin gets in and suddenly there is a new study saying the old study was, well, wrong and that a la carte is, in fact, a workable model for cable. Martin has been on the a la carte bandwagon ever since. Well, before, too, but now he has a study.

Then last week, studygate broke and we have a study produced under Powell's watch, a working draft at least, which says that locally owned stations produce more local news than nonlocally owned ones, including network-owned. That came only a year after the FCC relied on a couple of other studies that said network-owned statins actually produced more and better news–the FCC was justifying raising the ownership cap and allowing groups, including networks, to own more stations.

What that says to me is that justifying any government policymaking by referencing a study, and there are a lot of studies out there to be referenced, is thin ice with hairline cracks in it.

But, hey, maybe it's just me.

By John Eggerton

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