Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has written FCC Chairman Kevin Martin about yet another report she has a copy of, and saying she wants a full investigation into whether the FCC is suppressing information for political reasons.
Last week, she created a stir with a copy of a TV localism report that the FCC had prepared but not released in 2004. Former Chairman Powell denied he had any knowledge of the report. This time is is a 2003 radio ownership report, though the information she quotes--that Clear Channel expanded from 62 stations in 1996, to 1,233 in 2003 or that there was a decrease in the number of owners over that period of time is not exactly suppressed information.
"I have now received a copy of the Commission's draft 2003 'Review of the Radio Industry,'" she wrote. "The report found, among other things, that while there was a 5.9 percent increase in the number of radio stations in the country between March 1996 and March 2003, there was a 35 percent decrease in the number of radio owners.The report also found that Clear Channel Communications, the largest radio group owner, went from owning 62 stations in 1996, to 1,233 in 2003.
"For reasons I do not understand, this report was never finalized even though the FCC had released similar reports in 2002, September 2001, January 2001, and 1998," she wrote Martin. "Moreover, the Commission has not released a "Review of the Radio Industry" report since 2002.This is in spite of the fact that this information would be highly relevant to the Commission’s ongoing proceedings on localism and media ownership."
"This is the second report in a week that I have received that appears to have been shelved by officials within the FCC," she said, "and I am growing more and more concerned at these developments." Boxer's office had not returned a call about where she got the report, but she told Martin what she wanted him to do with it.
She called on Martin to revise and release the report and make it a part of the ongoing ownership rule review.
In light of this new discovery, I will ask the Inspector General of the FCC to thoroughly investigate not only the draft 2003 “Review of the Radio Industry” and the 2004 localism study, but also to examine whether it was then or is now the practice of the FCC to suppress facts that are contrary to a desired outcome."
An FCC official said that the commission had received the letter about the second report and was studying it at press time.