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Broadcast Ownership Regulation in a Border Era: An Analysis of how the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is Shaping the Debate on Broadcast Ownership Limits
Unformatted Document Text:  15 Robert Pepper, of the FCC’s Office of Plans and Policy, was acting as moderator. He began the session by saying in part that “. . . I think as one of the themes we’ve heard all afternoon is that in fact the courts are requiring us to be more rigorous and I think that there is an important point to be made that empirical does not just mean economic analysis or research” (Federal Communications Commission, 2001, October 29, p. 163). Pepper even went on to note that content analysis could be “very systematic, verifiable [and] . . . can be done in ways that would meet the same kind of rigor that you would apply to traditional economic measures” (Federal Communications Commission, 2001, October 29, p. 164). As the analysis below will show, two of the twelve studies conducted for the Media Ownership Group of the FCC (study #2 and study #5) did use content analysis as their methodology. As a result they stand out as distinctly different from the other ten studies. Despite the exceptions noted above, it would be fair to conclude that, while it made occasional gestures in the direction of alternative approaches, the roundtable was essentially framed as an economic discussion. At least in part adoption of this narrow economic perspective could be justified by the FCC since it observed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) released on September 23, 2002 that: Section 202(h) [of the Telecommunications Act of 1996] requires the Commission to consider whether any of its ownership rules are “necessary in the public interest as a result of competition.” As noted, the Fox Television court faulted the Commission for failing to provide any analysis of the state of competition in the television industry to justify its retention of the national TV ownership rule. (Federal Communications Commission, 2002, p. 11; emphasis in original, footnote omitted.) However, it was the authors of the NPRM who opted to italicize the phrase “as a result of competition.” It is not emphasized in the Act. And if the authors had included the last sentence

Authors: Blevins, Jeffrey. and Brown, Duncan.
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15
Robert Pepper, of the FCC’s Office of Plans and Policy, was acting as moderator. He began the
session by saying in part that “. . . I think as one of the themes we’ve heard all afternoon is that
in fact the courts are requiring us to be more rigorous and I think that there is an important point
to be made that empirical does not just mean economic analysis or research” (Federal
Communications Commission, 2001, October 29, p. 163). Pepper even went on to note that
content analysis could be “very systematic, verifiable [and] . . . can be done in ways that would
meet the same kind of rigor that you would apply to traditional economic measures” (Federal
Communications Commission, 2001, October 29, p. 164). As the analysis below will show, two
of the twelve studies conducted for the Media Ownership Group of the FCC (study #2 and study
#5) did use content analysis as their methodology. As a result they stand out as distinctly
different from the other ten studies.
Despite the exceptions noted above, it would be fair to conclude that, while it made
occasional gestures in the direction of alternative approaches, the roundtable was essentially
framed as an economic discussion.
At least in part adoption of this narrow economic perspective could be justified by the
FCC since it observed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) released on September
23, 2002 that:
Section 202(h) [of the Telecommunications Act of 1996] requires
the Commission to consider whether any of its ownership rules are
“necessary in the public interest as a result of competition.” As
noted, the Fox Television court faulted the Commission for failing
to provide any analysis of the state of competition in the television
industry to justify its retention of the national TV ownership rule.
(Federal Communications Commission, 2002, p. 11; emphasis in
original, footnote omitted.)
However, it was the authors of the NPRM who opted to italicize the phrase “as a result of
competition.” It is not emphasized in the Act. And if the authors had included the last sentence


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