That didn't take long. Ten FCC ownership studies had barely seen the light of day before Commissioners Michael Copps (D) and Jonathan Adelstein (D) began bashing the attached schedule. Now, a pack of watchdogs is bashing the content. "The FCC's chief economist started with the results the agency wanted and worked backward," said Free Press's Ben Scott. The group claimed that it obtained the seeds of one study via the Freedom of Information Act, in which FCC Chief Economist Leslie M. Marx kicked off a study by collecting "thoughts and ideas" about "how the FCC can approach relaxing newspaper-broadcast restriction." Studies which were determined would likely best forward that results were the ones chosen for execution. Consumer Federation of America's Mark Cooper said, "The agency failed to conduct an external review of the research design, failed to conduct a competitive bid to select researchers, and did not conduct a peer review of the results. The deck was stacked before the research commenced."
They pointed what they see as flaws in the FCC's current approach (under the click below), and then used to occasion to point out the alleged suppression of Michael Powell-era reports, leaked to Barbara Boxer (D-CA), that caused a major ruckus a short while back. "Coming on the heels of a major flap over the suppression of research that contradicted the agency's policy recommendations in the media ownership proceeding, it is clear that the new blatantly biased research plan was intended to avoid that kind of embarrassment and produce the results the FCC was looking for," Cooper said.
Critique of FCC studies:
* Attempts to equate quantity and quality of news with the important
public policy variables of competition, diversity and localism. They are
not the same.
* Incorrectly assumes that a competitive TV market ensures a competitive
overall media market.
* Incorrectly assumes that different types of media are close substitutes,
an assumption that is contradicted by the FCC's own research.
* Sets a low threshold for declaring a TV market "competitive" that
doesn't match the requirements of the Communications Act.
* Uses backward-looking averages of antitrust challenges that occurred in
case-by-case reviews of mergers to set a forward-looking bright-line
standard to approve local media mergers. This approach is completely
inappropriate, and if implemented would lead to extremely concentrated
local news markets.