Stung For Alleged Cover Up, FCC Posts Staff Cross-Ownership Studies

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

As the issue of dropping the ban on common ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the same market begins again to heat up, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin J. Martin has quietly posted on the Internet all the regulatory agency’s internal studies related to media ownership.

A statement from his Martin’s office asserted that the commission is legally entitled to without from the public some internal documents under an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act.

“However, in light of the unique circumstances present in this instance — principally, the FCC’s current consideration of the media ownership rules and the very strong level of public interest in this proceeding — the commission is solely, in an exercise of its own discretion, releasing these materials,” the statement said.

The studies are located here.

The postings, which were first reported by Kara Rowland of The Washington Times, come not only months before lobbying begins in earnest over the cross-ownership ban, but following a congressional controversy over a study that a former FCC lawyer claimed was ordered destroyed. The document, released by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D.-Calif., suggested that concentration of TV station ownership hurts local news coverage. At the time, Martin said neither he nor his staff was aware of the report.

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