FCC: There might be something amiss in media

Newspaper advertising is a joke, local TV stations are struggling to get ads of their own, journalists are losing their jobs and media executives are calling 25 percent revenue declines an improvement. It sounds like something might be amiss in the U.S. media world.

But don’t take our word for it if you’re the Federal Communications Commission, and you’re about to revisit media ownership regulations and see if they need some changing. See this item from Inside Radio:

[FCC] Chairman Julius Genachowski hires internet entrepreneur and journalist Steven Waldman to lead an agency-wide initiative assessing the state of media. Waldman will lead a team to conduct what’s promised to be an “open, fact-finding process” looking at how the economy is impacting media outlets and make recommendations for policy changes.

Waldman is the co-founder and former editor of the religious website, which was bought by News Corp. in 2007. … Waldman will join the Office of Strategic Planning and serve as senior advisor to the chairman. Genachowski says, “A strong consensus has developed that we’re at a pivotal moment in the history of the media and communications, because of game-changing new technologies as well as the economic downturn.”

Yes, but let’s make extra-special sure and hire a guy to check out the situation. You never know; everything might be just fine and we’re making a big mistake saying otherwise.

Tribune gets on Connecticut AG’s bad side

I’ve written before about the government extending aid of one sort or another to newspapers, particularly in Connecticut. Today’s semi-flip entry also takes place there.

Media-friendly state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is threatening Tribune Co with a reading of the media ownership rules riot act over its decision to consolidate its television operations in Hartford with the Hartford Courant. He’s none too happy with the bankrupt publisher/broadcaster’s plans because they could result in job losses. He asked Tribune Chief Executive Sam Zell some pointed questions about Tribune’s plans in Hartford, Here is a PDF of the letter:

Tribune Letter Publish at Scribd or explore others:

Bold steps for helping newspapers (seriously)

Another good reason to read lots of newspapers: You end up coming across all sorts of crazy ways to save the newspaper business. One of the most interesting that we’ve found so far comes from The Dallas Morning News, where Lazard executive John Chachas lays out some bold steps that the U.S. government could take to help save the press. (No, we’re not talking about financial support or “bailouts”.)

As he says in his introduction:

By the end of this year, some of America’s biggest dailies may well be run by their lenders. There is little evidence that banks would serve us well as the chroniclers of the nation’s news.

That’s because ad revenue is diving, costs are fixed, debt is threatening to shut down publishers and the papers have not yet found a way to make more money. So what can the government do? Wake up, Chachas suggests: