Thursday, June 5, 2008

NCMR 12: Historical and Contemporary Challenges, continued

Angela Campbell, Institute for Public Representation:

What are the unfavorable consequences of social science research in the media reform movement? Better research won't necessarily lead to better policy.

Policy process at the FCC:
  • FCC gives public notice and request for comment (Notice for Proposed Rule Making or NPRMs), but it is usually industry that intervenes in the comment process
  • The FCC issues a decision
  • Which can be appealed in court
The FCC is not a neutral fact finder. Appointments are political, and the agency is vulnerable to aggressive lobbying.

The role of 3rd party studies at the FCC:
  • Industry studies are often preferred in the first place
  • If reformers have a study, the FCC will cite "conflicting evidence," and industry wins
  • The industry has more studies, and industry wins
  • FCC should conduct it's own studies or commission them. Unfortunately under Powell and Martin, this process hasn't worked very well. For instance, Pritchard was commissioned to submit a study that was based on previously published, industry funded study. Academics should support FCC data collection, but they should also monitor it.
  • Make proprietary industry data publicly available.
  • Legislate that FCC relies on better quality data. The Data Quality Act was not in effect in the 2002 media ownership review. By the time it took effect, it slowed the process, but it didn't stop the FCC from following the Republican majority's predetermined plan.
I don't know. These solutions so far don't seem to be working; every solution can be and has been skewed.