Watchdog endorses delay of FCC ownership vote


FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has agreed to postpone the long pending vote on the 2010 Quadrennial Review of ownership regulation at the request of MMTC for the purpose of allowing completion of a study germane to the proceeding. The move was applauded by watchdog organization Free Press.

Free Press is nonetheless not entirely sold on this particular study – it notes that MMTC has come out publicly in support of easing cross-ownership restrictions, a course of action it strongly opposes. It also notes that the study is being done by a firm with long-standing ties to the broadcast industry.

Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said, “We are glad the FCC is backing down from its rush to relax its media ownership rules. It’s about time the FCC admitted that it does not have the evidence to take this step. However, we have serious reservations about the proposed study’s ability to meet the clear demands of the federal appeals court. The enthusiasm for these studies expressed by the broadcast lobby and its close allies gives us further pause.  We are skeptical, to say the least, of a study to be conducted by an analyst that has previously endorsed the FCC’s weakening of its longstanding rules.”

Wood added, “We wouldn’t presume to judge any study before it is completed, but the work of researchers with long-standing ties to the broadcast industry is no substitute for independent, peer-reviewed research. Based on our understanding of this qualitative study’s methodology, however, we have serious concerns about its ability to provide useful information. And even with considerable improvements to those methods, the study’s designers would have to acknowledge that it cannot provide definitive information that would satisfy the Third Circuit’s directives.”