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Marianne Paskowski



Many Americans Oppose Media Concentration

November 2, 2007 1:26 PM

The Media and Democracy Coalition released its survey today finding that 57%of responders favored laws prohibiting a company to own a newspaper and television station in the same market. The survey was timely, coming out as the Federal Communications Commission was to hold a public meeting about that topic.

For now, FCC rules prohibit a company owing a newspaper and TV station in the same market without a FCC waiver. But the FCC is holding yet another meeting in mid-December to possibly ease that existing limitation.

The findings of the survey somewhat puzzled me. For starters if you’re not in the business, I suspect the normal Joe wouldn’t know which company owned what. So who are the people being surveyed here, a bunch of hand -picked gadflys?

I doubt it, but I raise the question because I’m skeptical. Rather, I think there’s a halo effect going on here. After witnessing consolidation in so many industries including banking, healthcare, insurance, to name but a few, and the job losses that ensued, the almost innate, knee-jerk reaction is to say no to further consolidation. So I take the survey findings here with a grain of salt. Do you?

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Comments (2)

Andy S.:

I take all surveys with a grain of salt. I've been surveyed myself many times, and almost without exception I find serious flaws in the structure of the survey or the way the questions are worded. It's very easy to word questions in a way that manipulates the responses toward one's favored conclusion.

I happen to agree with the basic position of the Media and Democracy Coalition, but my experience has taught me that when you agree with something, that's the time to be especially vigilant about whether your acceptance of their research might be because of personal bias.

I took a look at their website to try and find more information, but interestingly enough I found no reference to the survey at all. One would think it would be the first thing they'd show on their home page. I did find a Reuters article which claims that 1000 American adults were surveyed. Not much detail there, and not a very large sample. The article did say that the results were consistent across the political spectrum.

However, it should not surprise you that a survey would produce these results. Most surveys on this question over the past five years or so have produced similar results.

Marianne Paskowski:

Andy,

Found the same problems with researching this study as you did. Only on Reuters and a subsequent Washington Post article.

Have to wonder if they surveyed their own membership perhaps?

As always thanks for you insight, here, and often before. You and I happen to agree about the media ownership issue. Even Landmark's Decker Anstrom, who I was talking with awhile ago, who owns TV stations and newspapers--not in the same markets--has no interest in seeing the current laws relaxed.

Best,
Marianne

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