An Analysis of the Federal Communications Commission's Group Ownership Rules

by Stanley Besen, Leland Johnson

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The Federal Communications Commission is presently reconsidering its Group Ownership Rules that prohibit anyone from owning more than seven television, seven AM radio, and seven FM stations in the United States. This study assesses the current state of knowledge about the effect of television station group ownership in order to assist the Commission in its deliberations. The study reaches four basic conclusions. First, there is little evidence that group-owned stations operate more efficiently than do singly owned stations and whatever efficiencies arise appear to be small. Second, there is no evidence to support the proposition that group-owned stations are able to bargain more effectively in their dealings with networks, advertisers, and program suppliers. Third, although the evidence is quite weak, little indication exists that group ownership facilitates collusion among stations. Fourth, the severely limited evidence suggests that no connection exists between group ownership and the diversity of fare available to the viewing public.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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