Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 3:47am
BOXER SAYS FCC 'STIFLED' LOCAL NEWS DATA
[SOURCE: tvnewsday, AUTHOR: Harry A. Jessell]
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) used FCC Chairman Kevin Martinâ€™s re-nomination hearing to accuse the agency of suppressing a two-year-old agency study that she said finds that locally-owned TV stations produce more local news. "I think thereâ€™s work that has been done and it has been stifled," Sen Boxer told Martin during questioning before the Senate Commerce Committee. "And I don't know who stifled it." Sen Boxer said that she had obtained (and would submit into the hearing record) a "draft report" by FCC staff dated June 17, 2004 -- "Do Local Owner Do More Localism? Some Evidence from Local Broadcast News." According to the study, Sen Boxer said, locally owned stations produced five-and-a-half minutes more local news for each half-hour newscast, including more than three minutes of "on-location news." She then quoted a portion of the study: "In the course of a year, this means locally-owned stations produce 33 more hours of regional newsâ€”news that's directly relevant and important to viewers." "Now this is not national security, for godâ€™s sake," Sen Boxer said. "This is important information about issues that are key to the peopleâ€¦. So, I don't understand who deep-sixed this thing. I'm going to get to the bottom of it and find out if any commissioners saw this." Chairman Martin said that he had never seen the study, noting that he was not chairman at the time the study was dated. Chairman Martin promised Sen Boxer that he would read the study and make sure that it is incorporated into a long overdue localism study that Martin predecessor Michael Powell had initiated.
* Martin Seeking Source of Mystery Paper
Chairman Martin's office says that neither he nor anyone had seen a 2004 FCC "working paper" that concludes that local ownership means more local news, a finding the report says "may have policy indications for both the Congress and the FCC.
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