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FCC Examining "Future of Media"

February 16, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an examination into the “Future of Media and Information Needs of Communities in a Digital Age.”  The FCC states its goal is to “assess whether all Americans have access to vibrant, diverse sources of news and information that will enable them to enrich their lives, their communities and our democracy.”  To reach this goal, the Commission asks forty-eight detailed questions.  These questions deal with issues as diverse as the information needs of citizens and communities, financial trends, the state of both commercial and non-commercial media, and the move to internet and mobile content platforms.  Advertising issues are very prominent among this list.  

The FCC states that its starting point in this examination is the First Amendment and the guarantees it provides to a free press.  It also states that it plans to draw on its proceedings relating to media ownership and children’s issues in looking at the future of the media.  It plans to conduct additional workshops and hearings and potentially commission new research in many of these areas as well.

Among the wide-ranging questions it asks are the effect trends in advertising are having on the viability of the media – including the impact trends in targeting ads to consumers will have on consumer privacy.  The FCC also asks whether commercial television is following through on its commitments relating to children’s programming and whether the obligations of broadcasters should be extended to cable and satellite.   It concludes by asking commenters if there are any additional questions it has failed to ask.    

The FCC has asked for comments by March 8, 2010.  We will continue to monitor this proceeding as the implications it could have for advertisers and ad-supported media are potentially very substantial.

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