USA Today's Curiously Incomplete FCC Coverage

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

The Federal Communications Commission met today to vote on a series of proposed rules. Typically this isn't all that exciting, but one of the rules, requiring television broadcasters to publish online public documents disclosing the amounts they charge political campaigns for advertisements, sparked a fight between the broadcasters and good government groups.

OK, that's still not terribly exciting, but this gets interesting, I promise. Big media conglomerates (News Corp., Gannett, Allbritton, Disney, etc.) lobbied against the rule's passage, arguing that publishing the data online would put them at a competitive disadvantage. In spite of that opposition, the rule passed today on a 2-1 vote. As TechPresident ably documented, several media outlets owned by these companies completely ignored the story in the weeks leading up to the vote, among them Gannett-owned USA Today, which still has yet to report on the measure. (Gannett "operates 23 television stations in 19 U.S. markets," per their corporate website.)

I'm singling out USA Today here not just because they haven't said a single word about the vote, but because this afternoon the paper published a write-up of a separate measure the FCC voted on this morning that aims to stop unauthorized charges from appearing on phone bills, a practice known as "cramming." The FCC's vote on the "cramming" rule took place right before the vote on the ad disclosure measure.

Why cover the "cramming" rule but not the ad disclosure rule? I sent a request for comment to USA Today and will update if they respond, but their coverage thus far gives the impression that the paper has an interest covering the rules that pass FCC muster, just not the one its parent company lobbies against.

Posted In
Government, Cabinet & Agencies
USA Today
Gannett News Service
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