FCC Picks Ownership Studies; Copps Takes Aim


The FCC has picked the 10 economic studies it will conduct as part of its review of media onwership rules, though the process didn't sit well with Commissioner Michael Copps.

The FCC is reviewing its ownerships, in part due to a court-ordered remand that included problems with how the FCC arrived at its 2003 deregulatory rule rewrite.

The studies are:

1) A Nielsen study of how people get their news, looking at primary, secondary and tertiary sources and how their ranking might change depending on time of day;

2) an in-house study of just how well various media are faring--the FCC labels it "robustness," including cable, braodcast, satellite, newspapers and the Internet;

3) A Gregory Crawford/university of Arizona study of the effects of ownership and "robustness" on the quality and quantity of news;

4) another in-house study on news operations;

5) a study of station ownership's affect on programming from Tasneem Chipty of an organization identifed as CRAI;

6) A Univerisy of Missouri study (Jefrey Milyo) on TV/newspaper crossownership's effet on news coverage;

7&8) two minority ownership studies from a quartet of academics from Duke (Arie Bersteanu and Paul Ellickson), Santa Clara University (Allen Hammond), and Cal State 9Barbara O'Connor);

9) a vertical integration study from Austan Goolsbee at the University of Chicago;

10) a third in-house study on radio trends.

Each study wil get peer review before being submitted.

Peer review or no, Copps saw the same potential problems as last time, saying the the studies raise more questions than answers, which he proceeded to supply: "How were the contractors selected for the outside projects?  How much money is being spent on each project—and on the projects collectively?  What kind of peer review process is envisioned?  Why are the topics so generalized rather than being targeted to more specific questions?

"When the majority of the previous FCC voted to loosen the ownership rules in 2003, a federal court took them to task for inadequate justification of their handiwork.  My hope has been that the Commission would not head off on the same tangent again—especially at a time when many people already doubt the credibility of the research we do."