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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:  20 FCC’s ownership policies that Chairman Powell called for when he announced the creation of the Media Ownership Working Group will be equally narrow. Chairman Powell has claimed that he understands that media industries should be treated differently. In his dialogue with Sam Donaldson at a meeting of the National Association of Broadcasters Powell said this. Media, for right or for wrong, has always been assumed in this country to be different . . . that unique value is something to be considered in policy. It’s not just about efficiency and competitiveness. If it were, we’d just punt everything to the Antitrust Division [of the Justice Department] and have done with it. We are told that this medium is unique to democracy. This medium is unique to message and viewpoints. We’re told that this medium is unique to localism. It’s unique to the way that we get our emergency information in times of emergency, as we saw on September 11. All of that being true means those are additional considerations, I think, in the context of policy. (Powell, 2002, April 9, np). There is little evidence of this line of thinking in the studies produced by the Media Ownership Working Group that Chairman Powell created. And those studies will not contribute that perspective to the FCC’s rebuilt factual foundation for its media ownership regulations. CONCLUSIONS: WHAT ARE THE LIKELY IMPLICATIONS OF THE FCC’S APPROACH? Before addressing the implications of the FCC’s approach to reviewing broadcast ownership rules, we must first address the policy trajectory written into the 1996 Act by federal legislators that has given the FCC some direction in its most recent deliberations. As Aufderheide (1999) has pointed out: “The solutions that this law proposes for communications policy respond to formulations of the problem that were, in the course of the legislative process, part of great debate” (p. 62). Aufderheide (1999) then organizes her analysis of the 1996 Act in terms of the perceived problems that legislators intended to solve. Accordingly, judgments about

Authors: Blevins, Jeffrey. and Brown, Duncan.
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20
FCC’s ownership policies that Chairman Powell called for when he announced the creation of
the Media Ownership Working Group will be equally narrow. Chairman Powell has claimed
that he understands that media industries should be treated differently. In his dialogue with Sam
Donaldson at a meeting of the National Association of Broadcasters Powell said this.
Media, for right or for wrong, has always been assumed in this
country to be different . . . that unique value is something to be
considered in policy. It’s not just about efficiency and
competitiveness. If it were, we’d just punt everything to the
Antitrust Division [of the Justice Department] and have done with
it. We are told that this medium is unique to democracy. This
medium is unique to message and viewpoints. We’re told that this
medium is unique to localism. It’s unique to the way that we get
our emergency information in times of emergency, as we saw on
September 11. All of that being true means those are additional
considerations, I think, in the context of policy. (Powell, 2002,
April 9, np).
There is little evidence of this line of thinking in the studies produced by the Media Ownership
Working Group that Chairman Powell created. And those studies will not contribute that
perspective to the FCC’s rebuilt factual foundation for its media ownership regulations.
CONCLUSIONS: WHAT ARE THE LIKELY IMPLICATIONS
OF THE FCC’S APPROACH?
Before addressing the implications of the FCC’s approach to reviewing broadcast
ownership rules, we must first address the policy trajectory written into the 1996 Act by federal
legislators that has given the FCC some direction in its most recent deliberations. As
Aufderheide (1999) has pointed out: “The solutions that this law proposes for communications
policy respond to formulations of the problem that were, in the course of the legislative process,
part of great debate” (p. 62). Aufderheide (1999) then organizes her analysis of the 1996 Act in
terms of the perceived problems that legislators intended to solve. Accordingly, judgments about


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