Thursday, September 14, 2006

Better Dead Than Politically Inconvenient

File this one under "if you're surprised, you haven't been paying attention":
WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says.

The report, written in 2004, came to light during the Senate confirmation hearing for FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. received a copy of the report "indirectly from someone within the FCC who believed the information should be made public," according to Boxer spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz.

I don't have any hard data to back up this assumption, but it's probably pretty rare that such a blatant indicator of regulatory capture would actually see the light of day. Kudos to the insider that notified senator Boxer—the FCC's been backsliding for years now (from allowing the pet peeves of one special-interest group to drive much of its punitive behavior to punting on investigating the NSA wiretapping situation to dragging its feet on VNR enforcement) and the American public need to understand how its failures affect their media options.