Pssst! Here's a few reasons why you should still care that the FCC is talking about media ownership in Tampa today
The last time the Federal Communications Commission came here to talk about media ownership, hundreds of people crowded into the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center to express concern about too many media outlets in too few hands.
But these days, the FCC is mired in controversies over whether it can referee the Internet or keep a tight rein on the Comcast/NBC merger, so questions about whether the same company should own money-losing TV stations and economically depressed newspapers seems almost quaint.
Which explains the lack of buzz for today FCC workshop on cross-ownership, scheduled at 3 p.m. at the the University of South Florida's Marshall Student Center. The Tampa session's panel includes Karen Brown Dunlap, president of the Poynter Institute, which owns the St. Petersburg Times; La Gaceta publisher Patrick Manteiga; WTSP-Ch. 10 general manager Ken Tonning; and John Schueler, president of the Media General subsidiary that runs its Florida platforms, Florida Communications Group.
If you aren't able to attend, you can hear the workshop broadcast live over the Internet from the FCC Live Web page at reboot.fcc.gov/live. Users also may submit questions by e-mailing email@example.com or using the Twitter hash tag #MoWksp.
Here's a few reasons hwy you might still care...
1 Television and newspapers are still the public's main sources of news.
A survey last year by the Pew Center for the People and the Press found 71 percent cited TV as their main source of news, followed by the Internet (42 percent) and newspapers (33 percent). But another study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism determined that 67 percent of the top online news sites were operated by old-school "legacy" media, and 48 percent by newspapers. So, despite the explosion of voices offered by online outlets, the biggest news voices in any community remain with established newspapers and TV stations.
2 It's not clear that uniting newspapers and TV stations in the same company would help either.
According to the same Project for Excellence in Journalism study, local TV advertising revenue dropped 24 percent in 2009, while newspaper advertising revenue slid 26 percent. In that same year, newspapers shed more than 5,000 jobs, local TV stations lost 450 positions and most ownership changes happened because of bankruptcies. Analysts expect both businesses to improve, but there's no rush in either industry to buy more real estate in shrinking industries.
3 One trend in newspapers is the one-newspaper town.
Few major newspapers actually closed their doors last year. But the ones that did, or went online-only — the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News in Colorado, for instance — were the second paper behind bigger players in their markets. In this environment, the question of who will own a newspaper grows more important.
4 Media consolidation hasn't changed much.
In 2007, a fact sheet from the anti-media consolidation group Free Press said Media General and News Corp. (which owns local Fox station WTVT-Ch. 13) controlled half the local TV revenue, and three companies (Clear Channel, CBS Radio and Cox Enterprises) owned 48 percent of local radio stations. Despite downturns in all media industries since then, those proportions likely haven't changed much.
5 You have a voice.
It would be a shame to have government officials decide who gets to own what media in your town without hearing your views, wouldn't it?