Media content monitoring modus operandi at agency.
Feb. 27, 2014, Fairfax, Va.—An Americans for Limited Government review of prior Federal Communications Commission (FCC) studies on media ownership has revealed that media content monitoring is a regular practice at the agency, with one 2010 study even citing Fox News and its impact on Republican electoral gains in selected districts.
“FCC Media Study No. 9: A Theoretical Analysis of the Impact of Local Market Structure on the Range of Viewpoints Supplied,” published by the agency in 2011 authored by Isabelle Brocas, Juan D. Carrillo, and Simon Wilkie in its literature review referenced a 2006 study, “The Fox News Effect” on the political, electoral impact of Fox News in certain regions.
The 2010 FCC study summarized the findings: “indeed there is an impact of the Fox News introduction resulting in a somewhat higher vote for the Republican candidates than would be expected.”
Overall the agency considered how media ownership shapes content and in turn political outcomes: “the ownership of media outlets matters viz-a-viz viewpoint, and that the informational content of a media market can have an effect on how people make decisions such as choosing whether or not to vote and, when they do, who to vote for.”
“Why is the FCC concerned with how media ownership shapes political outcomes, voting behavior, and viewpoint diversity?” asked Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens.
The FCC study’s literature review referenced another report that found that Washington Post subscribers were 8 percent more likely to vote for the Democrat candidate for governor than Washington Times subscribers.
“We conclude the FCC has as a powerful interest in examining the relationship between ownership structure and market performance, in terms of the efficiency of transmission of information and the diversity of viewpoints in the market,” the report stated.
Mehrens questioned the agency’s mission on its face: “With its long history of monitoring media content and its recent foray into newsrooms, it is time for Congress to finally put an end to the FCC’s content evaluation programs and viewpoint diversity mission. The federal government has no business in trying to dictate diversity in the 21st Century media environment that includes traditional and new media sources that were never imagined when the agency was formed.”
“The FCC is supposed to sell spectrum and they should stick to that,” he added, concluding, “With satellite, Internet and streaming technologies, and the ability to transmit today practically limitless, a monopoly on the dissemination of ideas is impossible. The original justification for the agency is now antiquated. There is no legitimate government interest in monitoring media content and viewpoint diversity to control media ownership.”
Of the ten such studies on media ownership that were issued in 2010 by the FCC, at least six looked directly at content or content-based metrics, market preferences, the prevalence of programming for minorities, the implications of national news coverage versus local, and other criteria in determining whether stations were viewpoint diverse enough.
Similar studies were conducted in 2006, and every four years before that.
Every four years the FCC is required to produce “limits on the number of broadcast stations (radio and TV) an entity can own, as well as limits on the common ownership of broadcast stations and newspapers… [and] to determine whether the rules are in the public interest and to repeal or modify any regulation it determines does not meet this criteria,” according to the agency’s website.
In that context, the agency regularly conducts studies on media ownership and how it affects viewpoint diversity. The 2014 review will not be completed until next year.
“Why did the FCC pull its multi-market study monitoring newsroom content?” By ALG Senior Editor Robert Romano, Feb. 27, 2014, at http://netrightdaily.com/2014/02/fcc-pull-multi-market-study-monitoring-newsroom-content/
Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703)383-0880 or at email@example.com to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Nathan Mehrens.