Weighing in on the controversy over charges that the FCC suppressed staff studies on media ownership, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein says the public deserves a “full accounting.”
FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein today said that the agency has tarnished its reputation by not releasing studies that might contradict a “predetermined” policy outcome.
“It undercuts our reputation as the expert agency if we whitewash studies that don’t come up with the conclusions that are favored by the very media that we are charged with overseeing,” the commissioner said during a teleconference this morning to trumpet the release of another study detailing the low percentages of female and minority ownership of TV stations.
“I am very concerned that taxpayers’ dollars are used to fund these studies and, if they don’t reach a predetermined outcome, the taxpayers never have an opportunity to see them,” Adelstein said.
“We deserve a full accounting of all studies that are in progress and the studies that have been done so that the public is made aware of the factual data and analysis that has been done by our excellent staff,” he said. “We can hopefully restore our reputation as the expert agency and not be seen as one that is politicizing the outcome of what should be objective studies.”
At FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s confirmation hearing last week, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) produced a staff report that she said the FCC had “deep-sixed.” The study suggested that local ownership encourages local news—a finding that undermines Martin’s effort to relax TV ownership restrictions. She later suggested that another study had been “shelved” because it showed that the number of radio station owners was decreasing, even as the number of radio stations was increasing.
Boxer called for an in-house investigation to find out why the studies had not been made public and “to examine whether it was then or is now the practice of the FCC to suppress facts that are contrary to a desired outcome.”