The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Benton Foundation offer this collection to promote the public interest by diversifying the sources of research on media ownership. Media corporations and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) itself have traditionally conducted most of the research on which Congress and the FCC have made communications policy. Since the contentious debate in 2003 over further relaxation of ownership limits on television, radio, and newspaper companies, however, academic and public-interest groups have sought to contribute more balanced, disinterested, and rigorous research to the FCC’s proceedings. The four studies presented here demonstrate the value of research from sources other than the regulators and the regulated.
1. MEDIA OWNERSHIP MATTERS: Localism, the Ethnic Minority News Audience and
—Carolyn M. Byerly, Kehbuma Langmia and Jamila A. Cupid
This project used ethnographic and survey research to discern patterns in news consumption among minorities in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, and to determine whether news consumption contributes to civic involvement. Scholars interviewed 196 people, two-thirds of whom were African American, the rest comprising Latino, African or other ethnicities.
2. QUESTIONING MEDIA ACCESS: Analysis of Women and Minority FCC Ownership
—Carolyn M. Byerly
The goals of this project were to discern patterns in ownership of broadcast media by women and minorities and to compare these to general trends in media ownership. We analyzed Form 323 reports, filed with the FCC, for the year 2005, with some comparison to 2003.
3. DO RADIO COMPANIES OFFER MORE VARIETY WHEN THEY EXCEED THE
LOCAL OWNERSHIP CAP?
This study seeks to answer the question “Do larger radio station groups offer more variety?”. DiCola notes that the method by which the FCC defines markets shapes how the local ownership caps will actually be enforced. From 1992 until 2004, the FCC’s signal-contour market definition allowed more consolidation than Arbitron’s market definition would have allowed. Because of mergers allowed during the signal-contour market definition era, in 104 markets there is now at least one radio company or organization that exceeds the local ownership cap.
4. NEWSPAPER/TELEVISION CROSS-OWNERSHIP AND LOCAL NEWS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS PROGRAMMING ON TELEVISION STATIONS: An Empirical Analysis
—Michael Zhaoxu Yan
This study was conducted to test the proposition—often asserted in media ownership proceedings— that consolidated media ownership allows for more and better investment in news and public affairs programming. This study analyzes the relationship between local newspaper/television cross-ownership and the presence and quantity of local news and local public affairs programming on broadcast television. The analysis is based on a two-week constructed random sample of television programming in 2003 for 226 randomly selected, plus 27 cross-owned television stations.
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