Bigger Media Is Not Better Media

DUH! And now we have (more) proof. I’ll let the press release speak for itself:

Today, the Benton Foundation and the Social Science Research Council released four independent academic studies (PDF) on the impact of media consolidation in the United States. The new research focuses on how the concentration of media ownership affects media content, from local news reporting to radio music programming, and how minority groups have fared – as both media outlet owners and as historically undeserved audiences — in an increasingly deregulated media environment.

These studies make clear that media consolidation does not create better, more local or more diverse media content. To the contrary, they strongly suggest that media ownership rules should be tightened not relaxed.

Each study addresses an important relationship that the media has with culture and community. The individual titles reveal the scope of their coverage:

  • Media Ownership Matters.
  • Questioning Media Access.
  • Do Radio Companies Offer More Variety When They Exceed The Local Ownership Cap?
  • Newspaper/Television Cross-Ownership Local News And Public Affairs Programming On Television Stations.

The study concludes what to many was already obvious:

“…cross-ownership is not associated with any meaningful improvement (in terms of program quantity) in station performance, relative to comparable stations, in the local news and public affairs arenas.”

This is a conclusion that directly contradicts a controversial report released by the FCC in 2003, under the chairmanship of Michael Powell. But it concurs with a report that was buried, and ordered destroyed, by the very same Chairman Powell who needs to learn that, indeed, facts are stubborn things.


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