Media Data Not Withheld by FCC; Report Clears Commission

Article excerpt

Byline: Kara Rowland, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Federal Communications Commission did not suppress data on media consolidation at the direction of senior officials, as several lawmakers suggested, according to a yearlong investigation by the agency's Office of Inspector General.

The investigation stems from two draft reports that were not made public by the commission: a 2004 study about localism in television news and a 2003 study about the state of the radio industry.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, called for an investigation after she obtained the reports last September, asking Republican Chairman Kevin J. Martin "whether it was then or is now the practice of the FCC to suppress facts that are contrary to a desired outcome."

Michael K. Powell, the then-Republican chairman, supported the relaxation of caps on media ownership and created a task force to look at localism. The localism draft report concluded that locally owned stations produce more local news, and the radio report confirmed continued media consolidation.The inspector general's report, released yesterday, cited "a lack of any corroborating evidence" to support claims that commission officials ordered the research suppressed or destroyed. …