Tell it Not in Harrisburg, Publish it Not in the Streets of Tampa: Framing, Media Ownership, and the Public Interest
31 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2008
Date Written: April 25, 2008
Throughout 2006-2007 the FCC conducted six public hearings across the United States as part of its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking procedure, brought about by the court's annulment of the media ownership rules enacted by the FCC in 2003. These hearings - the first of their kind in scope and quantity - drew the attention of the media, public interest groups and the public. In this study, the news reports of the hearings broadcast by the big four network affiliates (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Tampa, Florida, between February and April 2007 are critiqued using a critical framing analysis. The researchers attended the hearings and studied 40.5 hours of televised coverage (72 newscasts), and transcripts of 18 additional newscasts, broadcast right before, during and immediately after the hearings, revealing 22 segments in which the hearings were discussed. Two frames emerged from the analysis: a first-level agenda setting frame that claimed that the hearings were unimportant and a second-level agenda setting frame that suggested that media consolidation is not a problem. Taking into account that all eight affiliates assessed by this study are owned by consolidated media conglomerates, the findings of this study imply that maintaining broadcasters independent of consolidated media serves the diversity of viewpoints in a market, especially regarding issues in which media conglomerates have an invested interest.
Keywords: media ownership, journalism, broadcast news, public interest, framing, FCC, consolidation
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