FCC: Quadrennial Review and Future of Media

Two FCC releases caught our eye recently:  As a part of the Commission's 2010 Quadrennial Media Ownership proceeding (MB Docket No. 09-182), the FCC Commissioned multiple studies to evaluate the industry.  As those reports trickle in, they appear tucked away on the FCC's website at:  http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/2010-media-ownership-studies

One report that caught our eye, which is worth further reading, is a study entitled "Less of the Same: The Lack of Local News on the Internet" by Matthew Hindman.  Hindman's report reinforces what have sensed all along aboat internet news:  "New, Web-native news organizations are nearly absent from this traffic data. Local news on the Web is fundamentally about consuming less news from the same old sources. Understanding the local news landscape online has profound implications for policymakers, journalists, and local self-governance in the 21st century."

Another report released by the FCC delved into the media landscape in the broadband age, entitled the "Information Needs of Communities".  The report was mainly 478 pages assessing a current state of media and the demands of future informational requirements of communities.  Unfortunately, the paper fails to recommend any realistic solutions that could be assisted by the FCC.  Essentially, we are witnessing a marketplace failure of journalism and broadcast localism, and the proposed solution was to leave it up to the marketplace.  The report suggested reducing the requirements of broadcasters and ditching the FCC broadcast localism inquiry.  As for solutions to the reduction of local news, nonprofit journalism could pick up the slack, but the report magically calls upon foundations and citizens to denote money to pay for it.  The recommendations seemed to resonate from the opinions of the report working group members themselves.  Radio Phoenix/Arizona Community Media Foundation states:

"The working group was chaired by Steven Waldman, senior advisor to the FCC Chairman.  Mr. Waldman is the co-founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Beliefnet.com, a leading religious website that was acquired by the Fox Network Group.  He has been a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and NationalReviewOnline.  Elizabeth Andrion, General Manager of the Working Group, had been Vice President of Legal Affairs for Fox Television Stations.  The 24 members of the working group also included the Executive Editor of Beliefnet.com (Elizabeth Sams) and one representative of NPR (Cynthia Kennard).  There were no representatives of independent community radio broadcasting in the working group or serving as advisors or researchers."


FCC Commissioner Copps offered a criticism of the report in his comment.