California senator keeps the heat on FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, calling for an in-house investigation into why a local TV study by agency staff disappeared for two years.
It seems that California Senator Barbara Boxer is less than satisfied with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s response yesterday to her charge that the agency “stifled” a two-year-old study on TV localism.
In a letter to Martin this afternoon, she says the “best course of action is for the Inspector General of the FCC to conduct an independent investigation into who suppressed this report.”
“I think this is particulary important given the public comments of Adam Candeub, a former lawyer in the FCC’s Media Bureau, who said that senior managers at the agency ordered that ‘every last piece’ of the report be destroyed.”
The report in question is a 2004 FCC staff study that finds that locally owned TV stations air more local news than group-owned stations. The finding tends to undermine the efforts of Martin and his predecessor Michael Powell to ease broadcast ownership restrictions.
An opponent of media consolidation, Boxer surprised Martin with a copy of the report at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday and demanded why it had been “stifled” or “deep-sixed.”
In his letter Thursday to Boxer, Martin said he was unaware of the study prior to his confirmation hearing, but said he is attempting to learn why it was never released. “The senior management of the media bureau” at the time the study was written and Powell are no longer at the commission, he noted.
In any case, Martin told Boxer, the study has now been incorporated into a larger, on-going localism study. He also said that the study had been made available to the public.