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FCC Orders Anti-Monopoly Report Destroyed 273

Posted by Zonk
from the for-the-good-of-the-people dept.
jagger writes "According to an article on MSNBC a report, written by two economists in the FCC's Media Bureau, showed local ownership of television stations adds almost five and one-half minutes of total news to broadcasts and more than three minutes of 'on-location' news. The conclusion is at odds with FCC arguments made when it voted in 2003 to increase the number of television stations a company could own in a single market. Senior managers at the agency ordered that 'every last piece' of the report be destroyed."
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FCC Orders Anti-Monopoly Report Destroyed

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  • And? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BoomerSooner (308737) on Friday September 15, 2006 @04:42PM (#16116589) Homepage Journal
    We are surprised by this why?
    • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:05PM (#16116789) Homepage Journal
      Who says we're surprised? Or even disappointed, strictly speaking, since Bush's job is to keep expectations low [google.com].

      Slashdot isn't "Surprises for Nerds". But living down to abyssmal expectations when handling telecomm policy is important news. Especially when the Republican Congress is facing losing reelection in only 7 weeks, on November 7, 2006. It's your chance to surprise them for a change.
      • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:59PM (#16117218) Homepage Journal
        Moderation -1
            100% Flamebait

        I quote Bush saying it's his job to keep expectations low. I point out that "news" isn't necessarily "surprises". I point out that the news here is Bush living down to low expectations.

        Then I point out that we can do something about it in 7 weeks by voting.

        Which part do the TrollMods mod down as "Flamebait"? Of course it's the part about voting, which scares the hell out of them. All these Republican TrollMods have is power abuse. No surprises, not even disappointing, not really news.

        Take it away from their elected versions Tuesday, November 7.
        • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MightyYar (622222) on Friday September 15, 2006 @07:09PM (#16117648)
          In this discussion, which is political in nature, I agree with you. But there is abuse in the anti-Bush camp as well. I'll be reading comments on a purely technical article, and some jackass political spammer will somehow weave an anti-Bush message into, like, Ruby on Rails! Then some other rabid anti-Bush nut comes in and mods the spammer up! WTF? It makes the whole moderation system sort of a joke. Presumably the meta-moderation would take care of it in the end, but it doesn't seem to.
          • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday September 15, 2006 @07:25PM (#16117716) Homepage Journal
            I think the problem is that people have Bush hatred coming out of our ears. Because Rove has got the system figured out to the point where our usual election system for consensus and letting off steam (such as it is) is totally inadequate. In many countries, the level of anger at the government, even reflected in Bush's relatively high (at about 35% "approval") would see the the officials resigning, or even riots in the streets. Especially with such high stakes, like the Iraq War and Osama bin Missing. In that context, keeping discussions on-topic is very difficult, when so many are so preoccupied with matters so much weightier than Ruby on Rails.

            It's not professional, but Slashdot isn't a professional board. It's not even a geek board - it's a nerd board, and nerds are known for socially inappropriate behavior, like blurting out the truth.

            As for metamoderation, it's a joke. I post those rebuttals to moderations so metamod'ers will have more context to judge whether the mod is un/fair. But I don't see any real dampening. It winds up being just a battle of my post frequency karma vs their team of downmod points. That seems to at least allow my free speech to fill the vacuum of their supression. Which seems more American, anyway, or at least familiar to me, a New Yorker.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Dachannien (617929)
              And then you go and start dropping Karl Rove's name as well. John Murtha and Barbara Boxer would be proud.

              The truth is that the assault on our sensibilities comes from all sides. The Republican leadership uses the FUD of terrorism to scare us into supporting draconian suspensions of civil rights, while the Democratic leadership uses FUD about everything else to call our attention away from terrorism. Neither side is telling the truth.

              With the GOP having control of the largest political target in the nati
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Doc Ruby (173196)
                How have Democrats distracted us from terrorism even one tiny bit? If anything, they're too pussy to call bullshit on all the fake terrorism the Republicans create as "reality" for their media manipulation.

                All your crap about how Democrats are somehow pulling my strings, the strings of the media and the government - what are you talking about? Every charge I make against Bush is specific, substantiated, and true. You think Karl Rove is some kind of coatcheck girl at the White House? He's the stringpuller, t
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Dachannien (617929)
                  Michael Powell was first appointed to the FCC board of commissioners by Clinton, and only later promoted to chair the commission by Bush. Powell continued to serve through 2005, and supported the measure to increase media ownership that's being discussed here. The contradictory report was completed in 2004, and it is likely (though not confirmed in media reports yet) that the actions taken to attempt to destroy the report happened around that time. Powell resigned in 2005 and was replaced as Chairman by
      • by ultranova (717540)

        But living down to abyssmal expectations when handling telecomm policy is important news. Especially when the Republican Congress is facing losing reelection in only 7 weeks, on November 7, 2006. It's your chance to surprise them for a change.

        A question: if Republicans lose that election, then do you think that whoever wins them will be any different ? I'm not trying to flamebait, I'm honestly curious on whether Americans (I'm not one) think that elections make a difference.

        • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday September 15, 2006 @06:10PM (#16117280) Homepage Journal
          Yes. They were different from Republicans when they had power before. They're different now, even without power. There's no reason, except baseless Republican apologies, to think they're as bad as Republicans.

          Your .sig says "I want a Social Security safety net. You are free to become a stain on life's floor if you don't.". Social Security was created by President Roosevelt, a Democrat, after his Republican predecessors presided over the creation and beginning of the Great Depression that made its necessity obvious. Gore campaigned in 2000 on keeping it safe, in a "lockbox". Bush took over and started to try to sell it off, while robbing it to fund his $45-65 TRILLION debt. Social Security is just one basic, important system that Democrats can be trusted with, while Republicans will steal it, are stealing it.

          I remember what the country was like before Republicans controlled the government. It was better. Right now, it's bad in a way few would have imagined before. Unless maybe they were Republicans.
          • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

            by NoMaster (142776) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @12:44AM (#16118928) Homepage Journal
            Your .sig says "I want a Social Security safety net. You are free to become a stain on life's floor if you don't.". Social Security was created by President Roosevelt, a Democrat, after his Republican predecessors presided over the creation and beginning of the Great Depression that made its necessity obvious.
            You missed the bit where the poster said he wasn't an American. SS is not an American invention.

            Government-sponsored disability / unemployment schemes predate Roosevelt by ... well, lots! In the UK, social security arguably dates back to the reform of the Poor Laws in 1834. The first state-sponsored scheme dates back to Germany in 1883, under Otto von Bismark. France introduced one in 1906. The Brits introduced a national contributatory scheme in 1911.

            As you say, Roosevelt introduced SS to the USA in the 1930s as part of his "new Deal" programs - which, initially, only protected unionised industrial workers. When social security really took off was after WWII - mostly as a sop to placate unemployed returned servicemen; you don't really want a few million trained, experienced, and armed militia getting upset with you...

    • by megaditto (982598)
      Because that's not the American Way.

      That's not how this are normally done 'round here.
  • Memory hole (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 15, 2006 @04:42PM (#16116591)
    Rather frightening that with every passing day, the US is getting closer and closer to Eric Blair's 1948 visions...
  • What a surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aexia (517457) on Friday September 15, 2006 @04:42PM (#16116593)
    The Bush administration disregards evidence contradicting their world view.
    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      any Administration does. Corruption and mis-managment is not owned by any one party or group.
      poli: many
      tics: small blood sucking creatures.
      politics
      Its time to kick the bad guys out and put our bad guys in!
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        The FCC wasn't nearly this bad in the past. Clinton's FCC, particularly under Reed Hunt, was pretty good, especially for the Internet and WiFi.

        How come when Democrats have problems, no one defends them with "the Republicans are just as bad", even though Republicans, especially the ones we're dealing with now, are so much worse?

        Go: Movement
        Vern: Green
        Ment: Thinking

        OK, "vern" doesn't mean "green", but it's no sillier than your version.
        • by pilgrim23 (716938)
          As I have no dog in either fight, not being a member of either major party, I think my statement stands. I do not know why one party does or does not do as you suggest. I would suggest.....ask them...
          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            I didn't ask you why the Democrats don't defend themselves the way I mentioned. I asked why no one does - including people like you, who are quick to downplay Republican crimes like the one we're discussing in that way.

            I'm not a member of any party. Who have you voted for in the past few elections? Then tell me you don't favor one party over another.
    • The Bush administration disregards evidence contradicting their world view.
      It would be more correct to say they hide evidence that discredits their public claims. Especially with regards to corporate interests, I have no reason to believe that the report contradicted their beliefs. It was just inconvenient to their goal enriching big businesses.
    • I distrust anyone who falls strongly along partisan lines, or who insists the other side always lies while they always tell the truth.
      • by rabel (531545)
        yeah, I suspect so do a lot of people. What's your point? The post you're responding to does nothing of the sort.
  • Oblig 1984 (Score:5, Funny)

    by da3dAlus (20553) <dustin DOT grau AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 15, 2006 @04:44PM (#16116615) Homepage Journal
    Minitruth has determined this information to be doubleplusungood. Please deposit all copies of this report to the memory hole immediately.
    • A good Party member shouldn't have to be told when information is doubleplusungood. With a small mental effort all the appropriate attitudes for knowing what is good and ungood can be easily attained.
      • by da3dAlus (20553)
        Attention user #16116678: as you know, all freethought has been banned, and is considered harmful. Your discussion of "mental effort" and "knowing what is good and ungood" has been reported to the Thought Police, who will be at your home shortly.
    • by Zarel (900479)
      You duckspeaker; you unbellyfeel Newspeak! The word is "Minitrue".
  • FOIA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sdaemon (25357) on Friday September 15, 2006 @04:45PM (#16116622)
    Can someone get a FOIA suit going fast enough to beat the shredders to those docs?

    The FCC is kinda frightening. It does a lot of good, but it does a lot of harm as well. It's on my top 3 list of government agencies to not piss off.
    • by Skye16 (685048)
      They're on my top 3 list of government agencies to piss on.

      (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
    • What are the other two, just out of curiosity?
    • by syrinje (781614)
      The other 2 agencies being??
    • by ajrs (186276)
      what has the good FCC done for citizens lately, aside from arbitrary and vague obsenity rulings?
    • by Surt (22457)
      All of the other posters want to know what the other 2 agencies are, but I want to know what good you think the FCC does?
      • Re:FOIA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wfberg (24378) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:07PM (#16116806)
        I want to know what good you think the FCC does?

        * managing the spectrum. Not what goes over the airwaves, but who gets to use them for what purpose. (You don't want your local HAM interfering with TV or emergency services frequencies)
        * regulating the crap out of telcos, preventing much telco rapage (they're doing this less and less, regretably)
        * certifying electronic shit so it doesn't interfere with your other electronic shit

        Those are pretty much the good things. The bad things are

        * trying to be the thought police (nipplegate!)
        * being big and slow and bureaucratic (we want more free-for-all spectrum weeeeh ultrawideband weeeh)
        * failing to regulate industries despite huge whopping monopoly abuse (media ownership, ADSL/net neutrality, etc.)

        • by sdaemon (25357)
          Yep, that's the good stuff. Though of late its the other licensed (more or less) services getting to interfere with the local hams, and the FCC not lifting a finger.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by mark3748 (1002268)
          The FCC is completely unneeded in today's society, it wasn't even needed in 1934, and has caused nothing but problems since then.

          The FCC rejected long-distance telephone service competition in 1968, banned Americans from buying their own non-Bell telephones in 1956, dragged its feet in the 1970s when considering whether video telephones would be allowed and did not grant modern cellular telephone licenses until 1981--about four decades after Bell Labs invented the technology. Along the way, the FCC has pr

    • I can only assume that the IRS and the BATFE are the other two.
    • by tool462 (677306)
      The FCC is kinda frightening. It does a lot of good, but it does a lot of harm as well. It's on my top 3 list of government agencies to not piss off.
      Is that why you want somebody else to file the FOIA suit?
  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday September 15, 2006 @04:48PM (#16116643)
    It really aggravates me that decisions keep being made to help a few big companies at the expense of everyone else. It seems obvious that keeping more local control over TV stations is in the viewer's best interest, and yet the decision was made to let these stations get taken over. It seems it's only getting easier and easier for big money to grease the wheels of government.

    The fact that this report was ordered to be destroyed only goes to show that someone's best interests other than the public's are being defended here. How far will this sort of thing go? How much are people going to take before they push back, or are we pretty much screwed to slide down this slope to a place where we have no voice and no control? I sure hope not.
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Friday September 15, 2006 @04:52PM (#16116676)
    Seriously.. every other redaction or witholding of important perspective/evidence posted to slashdot as a story prompted people to post links of the supposedly stifled documents.

    So.. who has em!.. where's the link people ; ).. don't let me down!
    • by waferhead (557795)
      As much as I disagree with the Good Senator on many issues, she has a copy of the report, and the ...
      Sorry... Balls to put it online if they piss her off.

      (Bit of a hippocrite---Her position on handgun control for instance. Vocal anti gun shill... but _She_ packs a concealed weapon...)
  • QUICK! (Score:2, Funny)

    by eno2001 (527078)
    FCC Head: "Can you get me a line to Bill Clinton"?
    FCC Operator: "Bill Clinton? Why do you want to talk to that no good lying sonovabitch with a cunt for a wife and who likes to get blown by fat ugly chicks who look nothing like Ann Coulter"?
    FCC Head: "Because I hear he knows of good paper shredding services. I've got some hot docs here that need to be completely and totally destroyed before they make it out to the public".
    FCC Operator: "Ahhh... all is clear to me now boss. Sure thing sweetie".
    FCC Head: "
  • by lostboy2 (194153) on Friday September 15, 2006 @04:55PM (#16116709)
    Fascinating.

    The draft report [fcc.gov] and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's response to Senator Boxer [fcc.gov] are linked on the
    FCC's website [fcc.gov].

    • this document is going to be lost **forever**...

      On thousands of slashdotter's hard drives around the world.
    • by rabel (531545) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:20PM (#16116911)
      Couldn't they print the document directly to .PDF? If not, could they at least clean their scanner and toner drum and maybe even align the pages on the scanner so they come out somewhat straight?

      Is it government policy to author a document using a computer, print it out, then scan it, then convert the scanned image to PDF? I can marginally justify something obstuse like this if we need to capture the signature, but these documents are not signed. Hey, I think I'm the first person to point out a wasteful government policy! Go me!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HTH NE1 (675604)
        Is it government policy to author a document using a computer, print it out, then scan it, then convert the scanned image to PDF?

        It should be for redacted documents (see first page). And probably for any text they want to bury by making it unsearchable. Instead some agencies think they can electronically redact by drawing black rectangles atop non-graphical text, as repeatedly reported on slashdot.
  • This is simply the slightly more sophisticated version of covering one's ears saying "La la la la I'm not listening I'm not listening". And to think that if they had just ignored the report, it probably would have sat in a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard" without anyone taking any notice.
  • Anyway the only thing this report could have done is legitimate the use of force by the government against TV stations. Even if the regulation could have some positive impact, this would lead to a regulation trap the government could use to control the media even more. As much as I disaprove of the destroying of the report, it is clearly irresponsible, but I do appreciate that coercive laws won't be passed.
    If people WANT to watch local news there WILL be local news, tehre is no need for a law.
    • by bechthros (714240)
      Oh clearly. Just like people WANT cheap gas, so gas keeps getting cheaper.

      Wait, what?
    • by hunterx11 (778171)
      If people WANT to watch local news there WILL be local news, tehre is no need for a law.
      Would you care to substantiate this rather extraordinary claim?
  • by mcmonkey (96054) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:15PM (#16116877) Homepage

    Boxer's office said if she does not receive adequate answers to her questions, she will push for an investigation by the FCC inspector general.

    Isn't she precious. Gonna push for an investigation. How cute.

    Listen, hon, the horse left that barn behind a long time ago. Congress has made itself pretty much irrelevant. President breaks the law? They just pass a new law making whatever it was legal. They threaten to actually do their jobs and enforce some oversight? President claims he can do whatever he wants anyway. (When there was some talk about the USA PATRIOT act not getting renewed, Bush just came right out and said he could do whatever he wanted anyway as C and C. Rather than challenge that assertion, they just passed the law.)

    And they gave away the store long ago with these agencies. Agencies like the FCC enact and enforce regulations without all that pesky oversight and due process they have to deal with down in congress. Better yet, agency heads don't have to worry about elections. Regulations are so much easier than laws.

    What are they gonna do about it now? What did they do when all those energy executives lied to them? What did they do when all those baseball players lied to them? Mrs. Boxer and her colleagues are gonna do whatever they think they need to do to get reelected. Nothing more. They're certainly not going to do anything to anyone at the FCC.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:18PM (#16116893) Homepage Journal
    The FCC's job is entirely based on the need for a central registry for radio broadcasters, so sufficiently powerful signals don't interfere with each other. Along the way that leverage in denying access to the "public airwaves" turned into government control of broadcasters. Along that way the requirements to "serve the public good" were dropped. These days in favor of "protecting the propaganda of the government".

    New phased array tech lets multiple transmitters share a frequency, but are distinguished by their spatial separation. So the FCC's central mission is coming to an end. A lot of their worst moves to sell off any public benefit and protection, and to merely regulate content on "obscenity" (or other culture war buzzwords) is mere desperate grabs for power.

    I hope that phased array stations arrive well before the FCC can help the corporate broadcast cartel lock out entry to the media sphere. If we can make it past that dropping sword, we might be fairly home free.
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:25PM (#16116962)
    "It exists!" [Winston Smith] cried.

    "No," said O'Brien.

    He stepped across the room. There was a memory hole in the opposite wall. O'Brien lifted the grating. Unseen, the frail slip of paper was whirling away on the current of warm air; it was vanishing in a flash of flame. O'Brien turned away from the wall.

    "Ashes," he said. "Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist. It never existed."

    "But it did exist! It does exist! It exists in memory. I remember it. You remember it."

    "I do not remember it," said O'Brien.
  • Duh, duh, duh.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hap76 (995519) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:29PM (#16116994)
    If you want something to go away, you don't jump up and down saying, "Burn this immediately! IMMEDIATELY!", because then everyone knows that this is important and one of your employees/minions/servants might save it anyway, either because you're evil and they want to screw you or because they think that you're shortsighted enough to want it gone now and back later and so they want to save you from yourself. Duh.

    Of course, this is an argument for DRM - if this report had been DRMd (competently), there would probably be very few people with both the knowledge of the report and with the ability to circumvent the DRM so that if someone had wanted it gone, it likely would have been.

    That's a good thing, right? [crickets chirping]
  • In proper Newspeak: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:48PM (#16117136) Journal
    Minitrue report "Local Media Ownership" doubleplusungood, rectify fullwise 2006.09.14: memoryhole.

    RS

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday September 15, 2006 @06:09PM (#16117275)
    That report was paid for with taxpayer money, which means they have no right to destroy it. Where is the ACLU the one time I might actually want them?
  • Looks like the First Church of Censorship strikes again...
  • by Serveert (102805) on Friday September 15, 2006 @06:25PM (#16117379)
    From global warming and EPA report cutting.. To fmr Treasury Paul O'Neil, who after showing that income taxes would need to double in order to support the aging baby boomers, was rewarded by the report being axed before he was fire err before he resigned.

    This has got to be the most hand over the eyes administration in history. History books will not be kind. Especially when taxes must be raised in the future to cover the huge US debt or when there is only one entity controling all media. At some people it will be obvious what a terrible administration this is, right now it's not so clear.
  • by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Friday September 15, 2006 @06:42PM (#16117483)
    That's silly, we all know that few owners would help local t.v. coverage. Just like having fewer political parties helps the people. Imagine if we had one person own all the news networks. That would be like having one political party, and we all know how easy it is to vote when we have no choices. We just listen to what they say and blindly believe everything they say.
  • Here's the report (Score:3, Informative)

    by metallel (934019) on Friday September 15, 2006 @06:55PM (#16117570)
  • by toriver (11308) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @07:57AM (#16119700)
    Big industry can buy politicans who decide, or those that enforce - or both!

    Welcome to the United States of Clear Channel and News Corp.

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