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.

Plan Would Ease Limits on Media Owners

The head of the Federal Communications Commission has circulated an ambitious plan to relax the decades-old media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.

Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the commission, wants to repeal the rule in the next two months — a plan that, if successful, would be a big victory for some executives of media conglomerates.

Among them are Samuel Zell, the Chicago investor who is seeking to complete a buyout of the Tribune Company, and Rupert Murdoch, who has lobbied against the rule for years so that he can continue controlling both The New York Post and a Fox television station in New York.

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Again, this would be an awful, awful turn of events for the state of the media. Media conglomerates try and play the victim in this scenario and call the rules “antiquated.” The rules are there to keep the media in the hands of many instead of just a few. Sorry if it hurts your pocketbook a little, but some people want a little variety in their news and the comfort of knowing that someone hasn’t cornered the market on every piece of media in an area.

Don’t let this happen. Call your congressman, write a letter or send a carrier pigeon. I don’t think it will happen though, people will protest again just like when Michael Powell tried to do the same thing. Sorry Zell, Murdoch and the rest, you’re just going to have to settle with billions in profits instead of hundreds of billions. Excuse me if i don’t weep for you.