FCC sets ownership workshops


The FCC will convene three morning-long panels on the first three days of November to look at issues tied to the 2010 media ownership review – there is one featuring scholars (Monday, 11/2/09), one for public interest groups (Tuesday 11/3/09) and one for broadcasters (Wednesday, 11/4/09). All run from 9AM to 12 Noon.

The FCC is also accepting comments on the matter, due date 11/20/09.

The broad outline of the FCC inquiry is pegged to the age-old concepts of competition, diversity and localism. Here are the questions the Commission hopes to answer within the context of each.


* Is the competition goal best conceptualized as economic competition?

* If so, what approach should the FCC take to determine the relevant product and geographic markets? Are the relevant geographic markets local, national, both, or something else? Should the rules be analyzed within separate relevant product markets for delivered programming, advertising, and content production and/or something else?

* What analytical approaches should the Commission employ to determine whether common ownership of multiple media outlets increases or decreases competition in a relevant product market?

* How should the FCC assess competition in the market for delivered programming, given that there are no direct user fees for broadcast programming? Is the concept of innovation in programming relevant here?

* How should the FCC’s analysis take into account recent changes in the media industry, such as the increased number of channels carried by cable and satellite operators, the transition to digital TV broadcasting, the decline of newspapers, and the increased use of the Internet for news and entertainment?

* What metric(s) should the Commission use to measure competition?

* How should the Commission connect those metrics to the structure of media ownership?


* How should the FCC define the diversity goal in the modern media marketplace in a manner that is addressable by the media ownership rules? How should the Commission evaluate diversity across media? In particular, in deciding which media should be considered together for purposes of evaluating diversity, should the Commission apply the same substitutability criteria that are used in defining product markets for competition analysis?

* What metric(s) should the Commission use to measure the extent of diversity and/or its components?

* How should the Commission connect those metrics to the structure of media ownership?


* How should the Commission define and measure the localism goal in the modern media marketplace in a manner that is addressable by the media ownership rules?

* What metric(s) should the Commission use to measure localism? Are traditional measures of localism (the extent of local news and public affairs and other local programming, such as local school sports) still relevant and useful? If so, how do we define local in this context (locally produced, locally oriented, or some other way)?

* How should the Commission connect those metrics to the structure of media ownership?

The Commission is also seeking data, and asked these questions on that score:

* What specific study questions/topics should the FCC pursue to inform its decision-making?

* What types of data should the FCC collect to support its analysis?

* Are there particularly useful existing, public or proprietary datasets that the FCC should obtain?

* Are there particularly useful ongoing studies or projects?

The panels are already on their way to being filled.


* Moderator: Paul de Sa, Chief, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, FCC

* C. Edwin Baker, Nicholas F. Gallicchio Professor of Law and Professor of Communication, University of Pennsylvania School of Law

* Harold Furchtgott-Roth, President, Furchtgott-Roth Economic Enterprises, former FCC Commissioner

* Catherine Sandoval, Professor, Santa Clara University, School of Law.

* Joel Waldfogel, Ehrenkranz Family Professor in the Department of Business and Public Policy, at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

* Steven Wildman, James H. Quello Endowed Chair of Telecommunication Studies and Director of the James H. and Mary B. Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law, Michigan State University

* Simon Wilkie, Professor of Economics, University of Southern California, former Chief Economist, FCC

Public Interest Groups

* Moderator: Colin Crowell, Senior Counsel, Office of Chairman Genachowski

* Ken Ferree, Senior Fellow, The Progress and Freedom Foundation

* Cheryl Leanza, Policy Director, The Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc.

* Andy Schwartzman, President and CEO, Media Access Project, on behalf of Prometheus Radio Project

* Kristin Thomson, Education Director, Future of Music Coalition

* S. Derek Turner, Research Director, Free Press


* Moderator: William T. Lake, Chief, Media Bureau, FCC

* Jane Mago, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, National Association of

* George Mahoney, Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary, Media General

* James L. Winston, Executive Director and General Counsel, National Association of
Black Owned Broadcasters

The FCC says there will be more people on this panel, and that as yet some invitees are unconfirmed.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is such an all-encompassing topic. The FCC is considering this proceeding through the prism of competition, diversity and localism. For a broadcaster, what else is there? This study touches on everything, and therefore anything can happen.

This FCC is particularly interested in statistics, and they of course can be very tricky things. There are none that really cover the gamut of all media. It is just possible that new and useful metrics will come out of this proceeding, but it is equally possible that the attempt to find such metrics will only further muddy the waters.

We recommend that broadcasters pay close attention to this and participate as much as possible.

By the way, the public interest panel has an interesting mix – it matches former Media Bureau Chief Ken Ferree, one of the principal architects of Michael Powell’s 2003 ownership dereg attempt, with Andrew Schwartzman representing Prometheus Radio Project, the lead organization that shot down the Powell attempt in court.