Media Consolidation

NYT report - Different Channels, Same News - Sound familiar?

Today, Brian Stelter has an interesting article in the New York Times today that highlights the pitfalls of new content among shared services agreements (SSAs). If you watch television here in Hawaii, you may be aware of these concerns seen in the SSA that lives here. While it's unsettling to see the same exact content across channels like a hall of mirrors, the FCC's reaction is particularly troubling. The government office apparently doesn't have complete data on the number of such agreements across the country. Thankfully, the NYT sources University of Delaware Professor, Danilo Yanich's research as we have done elsewhere in the blog.


Problems Implementing Public Files Online

Today, the New York Times reported that the FCC is following it'd due diligence by fining broadcasters without properly kept public inspections files, by delivering justice to the Columbia University radio station seven years late. NYT's Ben Sisario reported "WKCR, the radio station of Columbia University, has been fined $10,000 by the Federal Communications Commission over a lapse in its record-keeping from 1998 to 2005." The Times also sourced David Oxenford, a lawyer familiar with this area. “There are some big station owners who get hit with these fines,” he said, “but by and large,

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the bulk of these are small stations that have small staffs, and this obligation just gets overlooked.” Last Friday, Honolulu's Civil Beat took the public file inspection to task with this report, where the intrepid reporters visited stations and obtained the files. They're 'intrepid' because getting these files isn't always so simple, as some Cleveland-area college students recently found out. While the FCC recently mandated broadcasters in the top 50 markets to make the public files data available online, Honolulu is just outside of the top 50. CB reporters share sympathies with ProPublica's similar effort on the issue called 'Free the Files.' Daniel Victor and Justin Elliot are covering this issue, and have recently noted that formatting problems won't allow the public file data to be easily searchable. It seems like the FCC is headed in the right direction on this, but at the moment they're a just a few steps behind the times.

Community Media Maps Highlight Gap of Public File Info from Hawaii TV Stations

At left, are two maps of Hawaii television stations. The first shows all stations in the state, while the second has only stations where public file information has been collected and scanned. These maps are part of the Community Media Database pilot project designed to collect and present information about community media providers in the United States. To aid

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in the FCC's effort of getting television public file information online, the Community Media Database has created the map of U.S. community media providers by management type, using the National Center for Media Engagement's mapping tool. The map contains over 2,000 community access television providers and over 800 Low Power FM radio stations. More specifically, the site offers a state-by-state breakdown of Access TV, Broadcast TV, & Noncommercial FM Radio with Congressional Districts. At right, Hawaii is in focus, with pins color-coded and marking station ownership. Yellow indicates ownership by a non-profit group, of which there many stations represented. However, blue markers are commercial stations, which have the ability to broadcast throughout the state. (Click the map for more details.) We've just begun digging into the data, but will keep you posted on other findings as roll out our media and money tracking project for the 2012 election cycle soon.  

New Reports Reveal Relationship of Money & Politics, Move for Online Info of TV Ads

This American Life has an in-depth episode up on money in politics from last week provides a window into this commonly misunderstood part of politics. Listen here. This is a quote from Sen. Russ Feingold in the latter part of the program during his interview with Sen. John McCain.

"...Well, it's never been this way, since 1907. It's never been the case that when you buy toothpaste or detergent or a gallon of gas, that the next day that money can be used on a candidate that you don't believe in. That's brand new. That's never happened since the Tillman act and the Taft Hartley Act. And so, people have to realize this is a whole new deal. It's not business as usual..."

Related, The New York Times reported yesterday that the FCC " is moving forward with a plan to make local television stations post information about political advertising on a central Web site." Click through the MCH blog archive and you'll see more background on this issue.



Pew Research Releases State of the News Media Report for 2012

For media wonks like us, a gift has arrived in the mail today: The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism State of the News Media Report 2102.  Authored by Amy Mitchell  and Tom Rosenstiel, the report is a rich trove of information about the current state of new media, as well as media industries.

“Our analysis suggests that news is becoming a more important and pervasive part of people’s lives,” PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel said in a release. “But it remains unclear who will benefit economically from this growing appetite for news.”

One the first pass of the study, we've pulled out a few interesting bits and placed them below.  But since there's much to discover in this deep document, we encourage everyone with an interest in today's media to have a look, and share you thoughts about trends you're seeing in Hawaii's news media.

Immediately in the overview, Mitchell and Rosenstiel cut to the chase on how technologies are influencing markets:

In 2011, the digital revolution entered a new era.

The age of mobile, in which people are connected to the web wherever they are, arrived in earnest. More than four in ten American adults now own a smartphone. One in five owns a tablet. New cars are manufactured with internet built in. With more mobility comes deeper immersion into social networking.

Where audiences are also continues a shift towards the web.

Other major trends include:

  • As many as 100 newspapers are expected in coming months to join the roughly 150 dailies that have already moved to some kind of digital subscription model. 
  • The emerging landscape of community news sites is reaching a new level of maturity — and facing new challenges. 
  • Mobile may be leading to a deeper experience with news than on the desktop/laptop computer. 
  • News viewership on television grew in unexpected venues.  
  • More news outlets will move to digital subscriptions in 2012 — as a matter of survival.
  • As privacy becomes an even larger issue, the impact on news is uncertain. 

Also a major trends is that social media are important, but not overwhelming drivers of news, at least not yet.  This is idea expanded upon in a Special Report: What Facebook and Twitter mean for news. “News organizations have a big opportunity in the social and mobile realms,” PEJ Deputy Director Amy Mitchell said in a release. “But they will need to do a better job than they did in the desktop realm of understanding audience behavior and developing effective technology and revenue models.”

The report also gives readers a good look at just who will be looking at 'effective media and revenue models'. The section entitled, Who Owns the News Media, links to a database with ownership figures across a variety of platforms. We'll be looking closely at local TV station ownership and viewer statistics in preparation for our political advertising project this summer, so stay tuned for more details.



Media Ownership Comments Submitted by MCH for FCC Quadrennial Review

On Monday, Media Council Hawaii filed QR 2010 Comments with the FCC. The document is cosigned by the Benton FoundationCommon CauseCommunications Workers of AmericaMedia AllianceNational Organization for Women Foundation and the Office of Communications of United Church of Christ, Inc. In the comments we are requesting a number of changes that will help prevent the kind of virtual mergers like we face here with Raycom. A study of shared services agreements by University of Delaware professor, Danilo Yanich, illuminates the number and styles of these agreements nationally.

By May 2010, when MCH and Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed joint comments in the Future of Media proceeding, their research had uncovered sharing arrangements in 42 different markets. A study published in October 2011 by University of Delaware professor Danilo Yanich found that there were as many as 83 television markets with at least one sharing arrangement.

The document also sets forth concerns about media ownership for minorities and women.

Once again, a big mahalo goes to Angela Campbell and the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University for all their help.


Sunshine & the Social Web - Panel Discussion Tuesday, March 13th

Sunshine and the Social Web: Citizen Power through New Media Tools

A Panel Discussion With:

Tuesday March 13, 2012 // 6-8p.m. // At The GreenHouse 

Media mergers have limited the number of professional journalists working in Hawaii today. Coverage of public offices and issues has suffered while citizen interest remains. Can social media and citizen journalism fill the content void and ensure we have the information needed for a healthy democracy?  How can citizens use technology to promote government transparency and public engagement?

Come celebrate Sunshine Week with Media Council Hawaii and Common Cause Hawaii as our esteemed panelists help answer this question and others on government transparency and the public right to know. Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.

Hope you can join us! RSVP to

Keeping A Clean Shop in the Marketplace of Ideas - Storified

Since another great discussion was had last night on local media, we couldn't help but Storify the

quotes. See below:

SuperPAC Spending Will Inundate Citizens, Warns Tim Karr of FreePress

Tim Karr, Senior Strategy Director at FreePress, published a comprehensive report yesterday on campaign Ad spending entitled Citizens Inundated. In it, Karr features current projections for campaign spending and the over-sized influence this money is having on the Federal Communications Commission and local media outlets, particularly on television. His findings and recommendations are issues that, we at the Media Council feel, are worth sharing and applying here in Hawaii.

From the report,

Broadcast television is our most influential communications medium. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 78 percent of American viewers report getting their news from local TV on a typical day — more than the number that rely on newspapers, radio or the Internet. As such TV has been extremely popular with those seeking to manipulate public opinion.

Projections have estimated close to $3 billion in SuperPac spending for the 2012 election cycle. The Wall Street Journal is tracking the spending here. At the time of this post, it's already at $40,890,383. According to their breakdown, most of the money is in the Republican camp. Locally, GOP candidate and former Hawaii Gov., Linda Lingle's campaign for a Senate seat has collected $1.8 million in just three months. It may have voters curious if the candidates are (like garage rockers, JEFF the brotherhood) asking themselves, "just how much money can we spend?" Most of this money is expected to end up in the media.

It’s no exaggeration to say that election money is all about the media. And the funds are not limited to spending by Super PACs. Campaigns spend, too. For every dollar contributed to support Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential run, his campaign spent nearly 60 cents on media, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Yet for all this money pouring into media outlets, journalism jobs are still being lost by competent reporters, photographers and editors. Where the revenue is ending up, is ultimately an issue of transparency. The designation of the public inspection file has previously held this position to document the political Ad buys for broadcast stations. However as Karr, and Columbia's Steven Waldman have chronicled, the pen-and-ink log is an antiquated model. A recent push to require this information to uploaded online has sparked a backlash from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) - to the confusion of many. Waldman wrote yesterday,

One gets the strong sense that broadcasters are happy to have a “public inspection file” as long as the public is not actually inspecting it. For instance, four TV licensees (in San Diego, Texas, New Mexico, and Illinois) objected to a proposal that the public be notified on air about the existence of the file. “Such announcements may arouse the public’s interest in examining a PIF, but the Licensees do not believe that the Commission should attempt to stimulate such examinations.” Right. We wouldn’t want the public so “aroused” that they would, in their words, play “Sherlock Holmes” rather than engaging station managers in “productive dialogue.”

In the closing of his report, Karr offers four recommendations to readers, of which Media Council Hawaii is taking part:

  • Make Political Ad Spending Information Fully Available Online
  • Expose the Money Behind Front Groups in the Body of the Ads
  • Get Serious about Strategies to Foster Local Political Journalism
  • Strengthen Limits to Consolidated Broadcast Ownership
We encourage you to join us! The blog will be updated with more events like the Feb. 28th panel with NPR's Neal Conan, for you to participate in addressing these four areas.

SOPA Talk at the Greenhouse - Tuesday, Jan. 17th 6 p.m.

We'll be there.

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talk about this important issue on Intellectual Property and the future of the Internet. Click the image for more information about The Greenhouse.