Ferree Testifies at FCC Media Ownership Workshop
WASHINGTON D.C. - Ownership rules and other regulatory burdens placed on broadcasters hinder their ability to compete in the media marketplace, stated PFF Senior Fellow Ken Ferree in written testimony presented today at a Federal Communications Commission workshop on media ownership issues. Ferree recommended the Commission quickly eliminate outdated ownership restrictions and consider removing other regulations imposed on broadcasters.
In his testimony, Ferree urged the FCC to focus on the overall state of the broadcast market, not just the narrow matter of ownerships limits. "The real concerns today should not be about whether one entity should be allowed to own a spate of radio stations in any given market, or whether one should be permitted to own a print property and a broadcast property in the same market," Ferree stated, "but whether it will even be possible in the new atomistic, hyper-competitive media markets to sustain the production of high-quality news and entertainment programming."
Ferree also voiced concern over the affect of ownership restrictions and other broadcast regulation on the health of the news industry. "A free, active and intelligent press corps is critical to a well functioning democracy, and there is no substitute for full-time, professional journalists on the beat," Ferree stated. "But somebody has to pay them, and it's less and less clear that any media organization—particularly those in the traditional media most concerned with the FCC's ownership rules—will be able to attract a sufficient paying audience to sustain a robust journalistic operation." Ferree emphasized that questions of economic viability affect both large corporations and the local news organizations the ownership rules were intended to protect.
"The goal of re-energizing and revitalizing local commercial broadcast service, if it ever is to be realized, will come only when the shackles that bind broadcasters' ability to respond to new competitive pressures are removed," Ferree concluded. "Of course, with respect to this proceeding, that would include eliminating outdated ownership restrictions so that broadcasters can organize in economically efficient ways."
Ferree's complete written statement is available on the PFF website.
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