November 27, 2015

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Congressman Wants Answers From FCC
Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) is leading a group of six other House Democrats in formally calling on FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin to clearly outline the details of ten economic studies on media ownership that the agency recently commissioned.

On November 22, the FCC announced the studies, which are coming at a time when agency's media ownership rules are also being reviewed. Concerned that the FCC may have set up the studies in a non-neutral manner to advance its goal of media consolidation, Hinchey and his colleagues called on the agency to provide them with all details regarding the studies.

"We write to request detailed information on the Federal Communications Commission's plans regarding recently-announced studies to be conducted as part of the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on media ownership," Hinchey and his House colleagues wrote to Martin. "We are certainly pleased to see that the Commission is moving forward with these studies. However, we are concerned about the lack of information that has been released thus far regarding these endeavors."

The ten FCC-commissioned studies are focused on: 1) How People Get News and Information; 2) Ownership Structure and Robustness of Media; 3) Effect of Ownership Structure and Robustness on the Quantity and Quality of TV Programming; 4) News Operations; 5) Station Ownership and Programming in Radio; 6) News Coverage of Cross-Owned Newspapers and Television Stations; 7 & 8) Minority Ownership; 9) Vertical Integration; 10) Radio Industry Review: Trends in Ownership, Format, and Finance.

Among other things, Hinchey and his colleagues are seeking answers from the FCC regarding: how the topics were selected; the backgrounds of the authors assigned to each of the studies; whether the agency took appropriate steps to prevent any conflicts of interests that could impact the outcome of the studies; the cost of the studies; and how the peer review process for the studies will work.

Hinchey is the founder and chairman of the Future of American Media Caucus in Congress.

Joining Hinchey in sending the letter to Martin were six FAM Caucus members: Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

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