In an update to a related story I mentioned yesterday, FreePress has published a report called:
10 Facts Kevin Martin Doesn’t Want You to Know About His New Media Ownership Rules (PDF).
It should be noted however that this isn’t about his cable company rule changes, this is about his media ownership rule changes. Again, these two proposals seem to be come from two different people and seem almost contradictory. Am I missing something here? What is Mr. Martin trying to pull?
The gist of the report is that many of Martin’s claims about the news business are outright wrong and misleading. Tim Tarr at HuffPo comments:
So, why does Martin remain determined to turn a blind eye to the public opposition to unchecked consolidation?
Stopping Big Media
It's not because the evidence suggests otherwise. On Nov. 13, Martin penned an op-ed in the New York Times, in which he argued that a "relatively minor loosening of the ban on cross-ownership of newspapers and TV stations," would help save the American newspaper from certain death.
In a new report released on Monday, Free Press found that Martin's claim that the newspaper is an "endangered species" is greatly exaggerated.
Consider this: Revenue per circulated newspaper copy increased from 2005 to 2006. Industry-wide, newspapers still enjoy operating profit margins near or above 20 percent -- higher than the S&P 500 average.
Recent mergers and acquisitions further demonstrate that newspapers remain highly valued properties. Prices paid for newspaper companies have been above 10 times cash flow, with average stock prices at eight times cash flow. These values are considered quite healthy by financial industry standards.
It’s no surprise that a bureaucrat like Martin would twist the facts in order to please lobbyists and media barons. This is the problem with bottom-line focused, business people getting involved in the business of news.
I’ve lamented on this in the past and it is indeed a dangerous road we are traveling. The news is a unique business that serves a dual purpose; yes it tries to generate revenue but its main purpose is to inform the public and keep them apprised on what is happening in their world both locally and abroad. We aren’t selling widgets here people, we’re keeping the gears of society greased.
Hopefully one day a happy medium (pun intended) will be forged. We’ll have to wait and see.