WASHINGTON, May 30 (Reuters) - Female and minority broadcasters do not appear concerned about one owner controlling newspapers, radio and TV stations in the same market, according to a study released on Thursday as federal regulators review rules on media cross-ownership.
Diversity in media ownership has been one of the biggest concerns expressed by minority and public advocacy groups that have opposed relaxing the Federal Communications Commission’s decades-old rules on how many and what types of media outlets can be run by the same owner in one market.
In the latest quadrennial review of those rules, the FCC is now considering slightly relaxing limits on cross-ownership of a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in a single market.
Thursday’s study, funded by the non-profit Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, was anticipated by industry watchers to gauge concerns that the consolidation of media power could mean tougher competition or fewer opportunities for minorities or women.
The findings show that such concern is minimal.
The study, conducted by local media research firm BIA/Kelsey and peer-reviewed by three professors, reached out to broadcast station general managers in markets with concentrated media ownership and asked them what factors affected their programming, operations and competitiveness.
Fourteen broadcast operations responded. The authors underscored that the study was never meant to be exhaustive and said the number of responses were sufficient to paint a picture.
“We were struck by the lack of any large concern by almost all of the respondents to these cross-media operations,” wrote the study’s author, BIA/Kelsey Chief Economist Mark Fratrik.
Only in one medium-sized media market, where the daily newspaper is affiliated with a TV station and radio stations, did all three respondents bring up cross-ownership worries.
“The study provides no evidence that the FCC should retain or tighten the rules,” MMTA President David Honig said, adding he hoped the FCC would seek more comment on the matter.
The study focused only on the local cross-ownership’s impact on minority owners. Other factors play into the decision whether the rules should be changed, such as diversity of viewpoints and competition between local owners and media corporations.
The FCC had paused its review of cross-ownership rules earlier this year for this study to be completed. Then-Chairman Julius Genachowski said the commission would gather public comment on the subject before voting on new rules. (Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Karey Van Hall and Doina Chiacu)