Like Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a group of House Democrats want the FCC IG to find out whether the FCC buried two studies because they run contrary to agency’s goal of easing ownership rules.
Thirty-four House Democrats today called on FCC Inspector General Kent R. Nilsson to investigate whether the FCC had suppressed two studies that seem to undermine the agency efforts over the past several years to relax restrictions on broadcast ownership.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who was first to suggest the FCC had suppressed studies contrary to its ownership goals, asked for an IG investigation last week.
One of the studies suggests that locally owned TV stations produce more local news than group-owned stations, while the other shows that the number of radio owners has been going down even as the number of radio stations has been going up.
Led by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Congressman David Price (D-N.C.), Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the House Democrats asked for Nilsson to recommend possible disciplinary action against agency officials if he finds that they purposefully withheld the studies from the public.
“If one or both of these reports were suppressed because they did not support official FCC policy, such actions could not only constitute fraud, but could also run counter to the FCC’s stated goals of transparency and public involvement in its media ownership proceedings,” the Democrats said in a letter they sent to Nilsson today.
“The FCC does not want to play fairly when it comes to media ownership,” said Hinchey, who is the founder and chairman of the Future of American Media Caucus. “By apparently suppressing information that showed the clear negative impacts of media consolidation, the FCC sought to limit the information the American people and Congress had to counter the administration’s agenda of reducing media ownership diversity.”
Representative Baldwin said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin should “personally oversee an investigation into the alleged cover-up, account for any other studies that may have been suppressed, take appropriate disciplinary action against the wrongdoers, and establish procedures to ensure this never happens again.”