Groups Weigh In On Ownership Studies

Organizations Claim Agency’s Data Collection Is ‘Woefully Substandard’

The FCC is getting an earful on its media ownership studies and ownership rules in general.

A group of women's and minority organizations told the FCC Monday that its recently released media ownership studies failed to target and provide solutions for promoting women's ownership of the media, but that the results they did produce showed that women are underrepresented and that the FCC's data collection is "woefully substandard."

Meanwhile, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) called for helping women and minorities through public-private partnerships and tax certificate policies, and Hollywood--Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Radio and Television Artists included--made a pitch for more carving out prime time space for more independent producers.

All the groups were filing comments at the FCC in response to 10 media ownership studies the FCC released over the summer, and more broadly on the FCC's consideration of how and whether to adjust its media ownership rules.

The women's groups said that the FCC needs to "adopt proposals for increasing women's wonership," then "improve its data collection and analysis," to make sure those changes are working.

They argued that "even when women are not being added as an afterthought to policies, they are often budneled together with minorities, as one homogenous 'disadvantaged' group."

NAB argued that the studies demonstrate a lack of harm from consolidation, and pitched getting rid of the newspaper-broadcast crossownership rule, loosening the duopoly rules. NAB said a "competitively vibrant" industry would promote the entry and success of women and minorities, with some help from tax breaks for companeis who sell to minorities.

The FCC released the studies July 31, the released peer reviews of the studies in early September. The studies were generally supportive of deregulation, though not entirely so.

According to the Hollywood filing, one of the studies, "Vertical Integration and the Market for Broadcast and Cable Television Programming," supports their argument that "(1) the level of independently produced content on network primetime is meager, and (2) the broadcast networks discriminate against programming not produced in-house."

They say the result is a lack of viewpoint diversity that can only be fixed, they argue, by "enacting a narrowly tailored, content-neutral 25% independent producer requirement for network primetime television programming."

Among those filing Monday were the National Organization of Women, the National Congress of Black Women and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.