Hiatus Ahoy: Notes While Away

My work online here will significantly slow down over the next couple of months, as I enter the most critical phase of my graduate studies to-date. Once I hopefully become ABD (“all but dissertation”) in early May, some of the pressure ease. But then I’m immediately leaving the country for an exploratory workshop hosted by the European Science Foundation on the impact of digitalization with regard to community media. As one a handful of non-EU “experts” invited to the event, I expect my role will primarily be to warn other countries in the midst of formulating, adopting, or modifying digital radio standards to stay as far away from iBiquity’s HD protocol as they possibly can.

Expect “regular” content-generation to resume sometime in late May or so. I made updates to the Schnazz, Truthful Translations, and Enforcement Action Database over the weekend, so those are up to date, at least in the near term.

In the meantime, keep an eye on these stories: Read More

Kevin Martin, Unfunnyman

Sometimes politicians couch the truth in humor. This typically happens when they converge for one of their pat-on-the-back dinners, where they’re surrounded by like-minded friends. Events like the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner come to mind.

In the world of communications policymaking, the hubris-fest happens during the annual dinner of the Federal Communications Bar Association – the cadre of specialized lawyers who grease the Federal Communications Commission’s wheels to keep their clients happy. Headlining this year’s dinner was FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who, by all reports, was quite a crowd-pleaser.

Check some of his jokes, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable: Read More

FCC Report-Spiking Redux

As if last week’s bombshell did not do enough to tarnish the legitimacy of the FCC, now comes word that a second media ownership study did not see the light of day back during the agency’s last go-round on the subject.

The funny thing is, this newly-unearthed report – Review of the Radio Industry” – doesn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know, which is how consolidation has decimated radio since the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. When regulators find themselves threatened to the point where they go out of their way to cover up the obvious, you know things are f*cked up to an insane degree. Read More

Mikey Powell, Document-Shredder

During the FCC’s mostly-failed media ownership revision-quest of 2003, the agency cooked up a bunch of “research” to justify trying to let big media grow even bigger. However, one report with real integrity never made it out the door.

mikeymodelsThe agency’s Media Bureau studied local television news coverage, and tallied up the amount of actual local news stations produced, and correlated that to station ownership. It turns out that locally-owned stations produce as much as 33 hours more local news per year than stations owned by chains or networks. The study also concluded that cross-ownership – the ownership of a TV station and/or newspaper and/or radio by one company in a single market – did nothing to enhance a TV station’s local news coverage. In fact, cross-owned properties more often than not produce less local news. Read More

FCC To Investigate Fake TV News

Sometimes enough well-documented bitching does produce results. A month and a half after the Center for Media and Democracy released their study of stealth PR on local TV newscasts, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin ordered the Enforcement Bureau onto the case.

Fines for violations (of which CMD documented several dozen) start at $32,500 and can be multiplied by up to a factor of ten. So far, the excuses offered up by those stations caught passing off video news releases as some sort of “journalism” have been quite underwhelming. Perhaps this will make the radio/TV station license renewal process more meaningful. One can always dream.