Tampa Testimony Against Media Consolidation, for Media "Convergence"

On April 30, "the Federal Communications Commission was in Tampa to hear from opponents and advocates of media consolidation," reports Pat Walters. "Since June, the FCC has been reviewing several planned changes to the rules governing media ownership. The commission will hold two more public hearings and plans to come to a decision sometime next year." Tampa hearing attendees raised concerns about consolidation hurting media diversity, news quality and local coverage, while media owners defended "convergence." Tampa is "one of the most highly converged major media markets," notes Walters, with Media General owning "The Tampa Tribune, one of the largest newspapers in the state, WFLA, one of the largest television stations (which CMD found airing a video news release about irritable bowel syndrome), and TBO.com, a Web site produced by the newspaper and television station." During the hearing, Poynter president Karen Brown Dunlap proposed that stations submit a "community report" when applying for license renewals. "It could involve a small task force of citizens," she explained, and could "be a return to a more rigorous assessment."