Analysis Shows FCC Data Lacking, Minority- & Women-Owned Media Limited

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, today released a letter from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), providing an update on media ownership issues in 16 case study markets around the country. The final report from GAO will be completed early next year.

The interim report on the GAO study highlights the lack of female- and minority-owned broadcast outlets in all markets. In undertaking this study, the GAO also found a recurring problem with data at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), namely that it is often not complete or readily available to analyze ownership issues.

“It is past time for the FCC to address our nation’s abysmal record on female- and minority-owned broadcast media,” Rep. Markey said. “The FCC should work diligently to address this important public policy matter soon. Further, the FCC must take action to improve its data collection and management program so that in the future, better and more comprehensive data are available upon which to base policy decisions.”

In conducting its study, GAO also canvassed “stakeholders” in the media and public interest communities with respect to various media ownership rules and issues being deliberated upon by the FCC. With respect to the broadcast newspaper cross-ownership ban, the GAO interviews with stakeholders found that 21 of 30 business stakeholders were in favor of repealing the prohibition on cross-ownership but only 1 of 5 stakeholders representing newspapers supported repealing the rule.

“If the FCC proceeds with a vote tomorrow on media ownership issues, I urge all the commissioners to weigh carefully the impact of any new rules or waiver standards on the historic policy values of diversity and localism,” Rep. Markey added. “Our democracy relies upon an informed citizenry and there are few issues that the FCC will address that will have a more profound impact on our civic institutions than the media ownership proposals that may be voted upon tomorrow.”

A copy of the GAO’s letter to Rep. Markey is available HERE.

December 17, 2007

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