Whistleblower: FCC Spikes Own Study After It Doesn’t Match Ideology

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The Federal Communications Commission was accused today by a whistleblower of discontinuing and concealing a study that showed locally owned TV stations broadcast more local news because the data conflicted with its agenda of media consolidation. Reported today in the Los Angeles Times, the accusation by former FCC attorney Adam Candeub provides some of the strongest evidence to-date that the Bush FCC has become a pawn of big media companies.

“The initial results (of the study) were very compelling, and it was just stopped in its tracks because it was not the way the agency wanted to go,” Candeub told the Times. “The order did come down from somewhere in the senior management of the media bureau that this study had to end … and they wanted all the copies collected.”

Media conglomerates have in the past disputed that their news coverage is inferior to that provided by independently owned outlets.

The year the FCC spiked the study, the agency was run by Michael K. Powell, son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and an infamous skeptic of all things regulatory.”Losing Signal,” a 2001 Mother Jones article by Brendan Koerner, provides ample background on how the FCC under Powell could have become sufficiently ideological to ignore its own research. Koerner reports, for example, that Powell gave a speech on the future of communications in which he declared with almost religious certitude: “The oppressor here is regulation.”

Koerner went on to write:

On these and other far-reaching questions, the agency’s positions are shaping up to be virtually identical to the ones being drawn up in corporate boardrooms. In April, during a panel discussion conducted by the American Bar Association, Powell dismissed the FCC’s historic mandate to evaluate corporate actions based on the public interest. That standard, he said, “is about as empty a vessel as you can accord a regulatory agency.” In other comments, Powell has signaled what kind of philosophy he prefers to the outdated concept of public interest: During his first visit to Capitol Hill as chairman, Powell referred to corporations simply as “our clients.”

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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