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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Freepress and consumer groups win extension on media ownership study proceeding

From Lasar's Letter on the FCC:
The Federal Communications Commission has extended to October 22 the window for public comments on its ten new media ownership studies. That's three weeks more for the public to respond to the surveys, which media reform groups charge have not received adequate peer review.

The proposal for an extension received strong opposition from the Media General company, which owns newspapers, radio, and TV stations in the southwest, and often calls for the relaxation of the FCC's media ownership rules.

"While we agree with Media General that undue delays in this proceeding should be avoided when possible, here we find that a brief extension of the filing deadlines is warranted," the FCC ruled today. "We believe that the public interest and our goal of assembling a full record in this proceeding would be best served by granting an extension of the comment and reply comment filing deadlines so that parties will have additional time to review the studies and underlying data."

For weeks, Freepress, the Consumers Union, and the Consumer Federation of America have argued that the studies, which survey media ownership patterns in the United States, run afoul of the Data Quality Act, because not enough of the information they used has been disclosed so that other scholars can duplicate the various reports' conclusions. "The Commission has not provided the sufficient data for enough time to perform such analyses," the three groups wrote earlier this month. "The public cannot evaluate these ten studies under the Commissionís rushed timeline."

The FCC released the studies with a 60-day comment cycle, which critics charged was an inadequate window for public comment. The public may now comment through the Oct. 22, and reply to comments through November 1.

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