WASHINGTON -- The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local television news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says.
The 2004 report came to light during the Senate confirmation hearing for FCC chairman Kevin Martin.
Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, received a copy of the report ``indirectly from someone within the FCC who believed the information should be made public," according to Boxer spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz.
Adam Candeub, now a law professor at Michigan State University, said senior managers at the agency ordered that ``every last piece" of the report be destroyed. ``The whole project was just stopped -- end of discussion," he said. Candeub was a lawyer in the FCC's Media Bureau at the time the report was written and communicated frequently with its authors, he said.
The report showed local ownership of television stations adds almost 5 1/2 minutes of total news to broadcasts and more than three minutes of ``on-location" news. The conclusion is at odds with FCC arguments made when it voted in 2003 to increase the number of TV stations a company could own in a single market. It was part of a broader decision liberalizing ownership rules.