MARTIN DENIES KNOWLEDGE OF MYSTERY REPORT
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin never saw it and doesn’t know why it never saw the light of day.
In a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer this afternoon, the chairman also said that he wasn’t aware of “any other commissioners, past or present, who knew of the report.”
The mystery 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 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.”
Earlier today, the AP quoted a former FCC attorney familiar with the study as saying that higher ups at the agency had ordered the staff to destroy the report.
In his letter to Boxer, Martin said he is attempting to learn why the study was never released, but “the senior management of the media bureau” and Powell are no longer at the commissioner.
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.