CME/CFA Poll on Media Concentrations [cr-95/10/7]


Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 11:22:14 -0400
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From: •••@••.••• (Anthony E. Wright)
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Subject: CME/CFA Poll on Media Concentrations
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As mentioned in this week's Telecommunications Policy Roundtable (October
1995) meeting, here is the press release announcing the results of a
CME/CFA press release on the concentration of ownership of media. The
findings are directly relevant not only to the recent media mergers, but
also to the telecommunications legislation pending in Congress.

Please redistribute where appropiate.


              CFA and CME Release National Survey Showing Consumers
            Major Concerns About Superhighway Mergers and Deregulation

For Immediate Release                  Contact:
September 20, 1995                     Bradley Stillman (CFA) (202) 387-6121
                                       Jeffrey Chester (CME)  (202) 628-2620

Washington, D.C. -- The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the
Center for Media Education (CME) today released the results from a
nationwide survey indicating that a majority of consumers do not expect
to benefit from the increased telephone, cable and media concentration
which would be permitted under telecommunications legislation currently
pending before Congress.

"American consumers do not support the pro-merger provisions contained in
the telecommunications bills before Congress," said Bradley Stillman, CFA's
Telecommunications Policy Director.  "The public recognizes that, contrary
to the rhetoric from Congress and the monopolists, their bills are going to
go up if this bill passes and these superhighway mergers are permitted," he

"It is also clear that the public recognizes the serious threat from
widespread media concentration," added Jeffrey Chester, Executive Director
of the Center for Media Education. "This survey also shows that very few
consumers believe program quality or diversity would increase," he said.

The survey, a national random sample of 1012 adults conducted during the
period of August 17-20, asked respondents about their attitudes toward
information superhighway mergers. The questions focused on whether mergers
should be easier or harder; what they expected if these industries were
deregulated; if mergers were permitted, what they believed would happen to
prices; program quality; and diversity of news coverage and editorial

With respect to cable/telco mergers, 54% of respondents say they should be
harder.  For entertainment companies, it is 47%.  For both segments of the
industry only 34% believed mergers should be easier.

The responses on the issue of what would happen to prices after a merger
were even more significant.  Only 12% of respondents believe local phone
and cable rates would decline as a result of mergers.  That figure falls to
7% for entertainment companies.  In both cases, 50% of respondents believe
that prices will increase as a direct result of telecommunications mergers.

As with mergers, respondents do not see the price benefit promised by
Congress from deregulation of the local telephone and cable companies.
More consumers believe deregulation will hurt them then help them.

When asked about greater local media concentration, only 12% of respondents
believe it is a good policy to allow one entity to control multiple media
outlets such as television stations, newspapers, and local cable and
telephone companies. 55% believe such concentration is bad for the country.
The respondents also believe such a policy would be a serious blow to
program quality and diversity of news coverage and editorial opinion.

"The American people recognize that the legislation, as currently drafted,
represents a real threat to democracy," said CME's Chester.  "The liberal
merger policy currently being pursued by Congress virtually guarantees that
the news, entertainment and information we all receive will be controlled
by fewer and fewer corporate conglomerates."

"These survey results indicate that the Congress is moving in the opposite
direction from the American people," continued Stillman.  "The public
beyond the beltway shares the concerns of the Clinton Administration and we
urge the President to stand firm on his veto threat," he concluded.

                                        * * *

The Consumer Federation of America is a non-profit association of 240
pro-consumer groups, with a combined membership of 50 million, that was
founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through advocacy and
education.  The Center for Media Education is a non-profit organization
focusing on public interest media policy issues.

Anthony E. Wright                       •••@••.•••
Coordinator, Future of Media Project    Center for Media Education

 Posted by --  Andrew Oram  --  •••@••.••• --  Cambridge, Mass., USA
                 Moderator:  CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)

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