The Benton Foundation and the Social Science Research Council released four independent academic studies of the impact of media consolidation in the U.S. The studies focus on how the concentration of media ownership affect 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 correlate with better, more local or more diverse media content. To the contrary, they strongly suggest that media ownership rules should be tightened not relaxed.
The studies are intended to inform the FCC's reexamination of media ownership restrictions and have been filed with the FCC during the initial public comment period ending Monday, October 23.
Benton president and former FCC commissioner Gloria Tristani framed the importance of these studies, stating, “This is about everything we hear and see and read through the media. At stake is how TV, radio, newspapers and even emerging media will look, what role they will play in citizens’ lives, and who, if anyone, will control them and for what purposes.”
Joe Karaganis, program director at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), commented that the goal of the SSRC is “to ensure that public policy is informed by rigorous data and analysis, and by a wide range of perspectives. Our role in this process has been that of a facilitator of a larger conversation among researchers interested in media ownership.”
The four studies examine key relationships between ownership, programming, and community impact.