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Public Statements

Letter to The Inspector General Kent R. Nilsson

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown


September 21, 2006

The Honorable Kent R. Nilsson, Ph.D., J.D.
Inspector General
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

Dear Inspector General Nilsson:

We are writing to express our grave concern about recent revelations that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may have intentionally suppressed two important studies on the impact of media consolidation during the term of former FCC Chairman Michael Powell.

The reports in question were a 2004 draft working paper that examined the relationship between media ownership and local news coverage, and a 2003 draft report titled "Review of the Radio Industry." The first report concluded that "locally owned television broadcast stations air more local news than network owned-and-operated and non-locally owned stations, even adjusting for the number of stations owned by the corporate parent." This conclusion appears to contradict arguments made by the FCC during the agency's 2002-2003 media ownership rulemaking process.

The second report found that between 1996 and early 2003, the number of commercial radio stations on the air rose 5.9 percent while the number of station owners fell 35 percent. This dramatic evidence of radio industry consolidation, had it been publicly available, would almost certainly have called into question the loosening of newspaper and television ownership rules finalized by the FCC in June 2003. If one or both of these reports were suppressed because they did not support official FCC policy, such actions not only could constitute fraud, but also would run counter to the FCC's stated goals of transparency and public involvement in its media ownership proceedings.

We believe that a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the possible suppression of these reports is essential if the FCC is to be perceived as acting in good faith on media ownership issues by Congress and the American people. We urge you to quickly initiate a thorough investigation, as requested by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, to ascertain whether these reports were suppressed, identify the parties involved, and recommend any appropriate disciplinary actions.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

DAVID E. PRICE MAURICE HINCHEY

TAMMY BALDWIN SHERROD BROWN

TOM ALLEN XAVIER BECERRA

JULIA CARSON JOHN CONYERS, JR.

PETER DeFAZIO ROSA DeLAURO

ANNA ESHOO SAM FARR

BOB FILNER RAUL GRIJALVA

LUIS GUTIERREZ DENNIS KUCINICH

JOHN LARSON BARBARA LEE

JOHN LEWIS JIM McDERMOTT

MIKE McINTYRE DAVID OBEY

DONALD PAYNE BERNARD SANDERS

JAN SCHAKOWSKY JOSÉ SERRANO

LOUISE McINTOSH SLAUGHTER ADAM SMITH

FORTNEY PETE STARK TED STRICKLAND

TOM UDALL DIANE WATSON

LYNN WOOLSEY NEIL ABERCROMBIE

cc: Chairman Kevin J. Martin
Commissioner Michael J. Copps
Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein
Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate
Commissioner Robert M. McDowell

http://price.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=50461

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