Sen. Boxer Calls For Investigation Into FCC Reports
September 19, 2006
Last week during FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's renomination hearing, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) revealed the existence of a 2004 study on localism in the media that she claimed was killed by the Commission. Later in the week, a former FCC attorney confirmed its existence and a draft of the study appeared on the FCC.gov.
Now a second report on media ownership has been unearthed and Boxer has written an open letter to Chairman Martin, calling for an investigation into the matter.
In her letter, Boxer revealed the existence of a draft of the 2003 FCC report “Review of the Radio Industry.” According to the report's findings, "while there was a 5.9 percent increase in the number of radio stations in the country between March 1996 and March 2003, there was a 35 percent decrease in the number of radio owners. The report also found that ClearChannel Communications, the largest radio group owner, went from owning 62 stations in 1996, to 1,233 in 2003."
She adds that the FCC had released similar reports in the past but now has not published a "Review of the Radio Industry" since 2002. "This is in spite of the fact that this information would be highly relevant to the Commission’s ongoing proceedings on localism and media ownership."
Since this was the second shelved FCC report in a week that has been revealed, Boxer writes that she is asking the Inspector General of the FCC "to thoroughly investigate not only the draft 2003 'Review of the Radio Industry' and the 2004 localism study, but also to examine whether it was then or is now the practice of the FCC to suppress facts that are contrary to a desired outcome."
The lost draft of the 2003 "Review of the Radio Industry" has now been published on the FCC's Web site and can be read here in PDF format. Chairman Martin has also written an open reply to Sen. Boxer, noting that he was not aware of the missing reports. Though he was not Chairman at the time of the reports, he is concerned over these new revelations and will also ask the Inspector General for an investigation. He also says that there will be an update to the radio report with current data, which will be released before the conclusion of the ongoing media ownership proceedings.
In related news, the FCC has extended the deadline for comments in the media ownership review to October 23, with the deadline for reply comments also moved back a month, to December 21.