Live report from FCC hearings on media ownership

04/20/10 Seán Kinane & Kate Bradshaw
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

The Federal Communications Commission is conducting public hearings today at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

The hearings deal with loosening media cross-ownership rules that currently forbid one company from owning a television station and a newspaper in the same market in most cases.

WMNF is carrying the FCC hearings live on our HD 3 Channel The Source and on Bulls Radio HD 2 until they end, which is scheduled to be 7:30 pm.

Our reporter Kate Bradshaw is there and files this report on a panel on media cross-ownership.

There are four who are against a lift on the ban on media ownership across multiple platforms, and there are three in favor of it. And so some interesting debate has ensued, one having to do with Spanish-language newspapers in the Tampa Bay area. Some of the questions that are being heard are, with all media outlets sort of being with constrained resources, does the cross-platform model actually work? Or does it strain reporters even further by making them focus on the product at the actual—not the actual content, not the flick-spear side of it, so to speak?

Q. The Media General owns both the television station, Channel 8 here, and the Tampa Tribune. So that came up a lot during the hearings. What did the person—the representative from Media General say about it, and what did the opponents say?

It was interesting because the representative from Media General—I think his official title was ?? leader, something like that—said that essentially, yeah, combining all of these resources, they are able to actually create, you know, better content that reaches greater audiences. But the thing is, he’s kind of saying this despite, you know, the fact that they’ve had to lay off so many people in the past year or two. And so, yeah, I mean, it’s pretty interesting, but he’s saying, “Nothing wrong with it; let the market figure itself out; no government regulation”; and just—what they’re saying is, let antitrust laws determine, you know, media ownership, and not this separate FCC regulation.

Now, the people who disagree with him say that this media ownership, multiple platforms in one—multiple outlets in one market, results in less diversity, and, like I said before, more strain on reporters, and less quality news, more titillation, as opposed to real, serious, intelligent debate. An interesting thing that was said—and actually this was said by both the editor and publisher of La Gaceta as well as my former professor at University of South Florida, Bob Dardun. What Doctor Dardun said was, markets have consumers, and communities have citizens. And smaller and more independent media view their product as going to the community and the citizens, whereas it’s viewed as a consumer product on the part of larger companies.

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you made a typo - it's "la gaceta"