A CASE STUDY OF CROSS-OWNERSHIP WAIVERS: FRAMING NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF RUPERT MURDOCH’S REQUESTS TO KEEP THE NEW YORK POST
by Rachel L. Seeman
Media ownership is an important regulatory issue that is enforced by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC, Congress, court and public interest groups share varying viewpoints concerning what the ownership limits should be and whether companies should be granted a waiver to be excused from the rules. News Corporation is one media firm that has a history of seeking these waivers, particularly for the New York Post and television stations in same community. This study conducted a qualitative framing analysis of news articles from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to determine if the viewpoints expressed by the editorial boards were reflected in reports on News Corp.’s attempt to receive cross-ownership waivers. The analysis uncovered ten frames the newspapers used to assist in reporting the events and found that 80% of these frames did parallel the positions the paper’s editorial boards took concerning ownership waivers.
A CASE STUDY OF CROSS-OWNERSHIP WAIVERS: FRAMING NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF RUPERT MURDOCH’S REQUESTS TO KEEP THE NEW YORK POST
Submitted to the Faculty of Miami University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Communications by Rachel Leianne Seeman Miami University Oxford, OH 2009
Advisor: ______(Dr. Bruce Drushel)
Reader: ______(Dr. Howard Kleiman)
Reader: ______(Dr. Douglas Shumavon)
Dedication…………………………………………………………………………….…..iv Chapter One: Framing Newspaper Coverage of Media Policy Introduction.……………………………………………………………………… 1 The Research Question & Subsidiary Questions.…………………………..……..1 Literature Review………..……………….………………………………………..2 Case Study Overview…..……………….………………………………………..15 Method……..……………….……………………………………...…………….19 Chapter Preview……..……………….……………………….………………….22 Chapter Two: History of the Cross-ownership Waiver and the New York Post Congress and Regulatory Agencies……………………………………………...24 A Closer Look at the Federal Communications Commission....…………...……28 Murdoch Granted Wavier for Post ...……………………………………………32 Congress forces Murdoch to Sell……………………………………………...…36 Murdoch Repurchases the Post……………………………………………….….39 The Chris-Craft Merger…………………………………………………….…....45 Chapter Three: Understanding the Theory and Method The Framing Theory……………………………………………………………..50 Method……………………………………………………………………...……55 Chapter Four: Frames Found in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Inclusion and Exclusion of Facts………………………………………………...58 WSJ Frames……………………………………………………………………...61 NYT Frames……………………………………………………………………...69 Comparing the Frames…………………………………………………………...75 Chapter Five: Conclusions and Evaluation of Study Framing Functions.………………………………………………………………77 Exploring the Reasons behind the Frames……………………………………….80 Prominence………………………………………………………………………85 Newspaper Frames and Editorial Positions……………………………………...85 Study Limitations and Future Research…………………………………….……88 Implications of Results…………………………………………………………..91 Conclusions………………………………………………………………………93
References.……………………………………………………………………………….94 Appendix A: Current FCC Ownership Rules………………..………………………106 Appendix B: FCC Organizational Chart…………………………………….….……109 Appendix C: FCC Decision-Making Process………………………..….….…………111 Appendix D: Articles and Sources……………………………………….……………113 Wall Street Journal………………………………………….…….…………….113 New York Times………………………………………………….…………….119 Appendix E: Frame Timeline………………………………………………………….129
I dedicate this to my loving husband, Nathan, my awesome parents, Tricia and Jeff, and other family and friends who supported me throughout my graduate studies. Your faith in me is the reason this research became a reality. Thank you!
CHAPTER ONE Framing Newspaper Coverage of Media Policy Introduction It has not yet been a century since the Federal Communications Commission was established by the United States Congress to regulate America’s broadcasters. Media ownership is one of numerous regulatory topics the FCC deals with on a regular basis. It is also one of the most debated issues between the public and other policy shapers. No one has been able to determine a limit on how much is too much for one person/company to own that satisfies everyone. Ownership is an important regulatory issue since it has an impact on how a company conducts its business and serves the public. For media outlets, this may include influences on content, how the information is publicized, the concepts disseminated in the marketplace of ideas, and the overall market structure (Warf, 2007, 102 and 91; Croteau &Hoynes, 2006, 144). In the last 20 years broadcast media ownership rules have been revised to both reduce and increase the limits imposed on media owners. However, the rules are not set in stone per se since media owners can apply for permission from the Federal Communications Commission to bypass the rules if they have already reached an existing limit and wish to continue expansion beyond the cap. This process is completed in the form of an amendment, exception, or waiver. This study will focus on one media company, News Corporation, and its history of cross-ownership waivers, specifically focusing on its attempt to maintain control of The New York Post. This study will analyze articles from two newspapers with polar opinions on media ownership, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, to understand what frames are used in the coverage of these events. The frames will be compared to understand what language and tone is most commonly associated with them. The Research Question Are there similarities between the positions the editorial boards of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have taken regarding media ownership and the frames that appear in the newspaper coverage of Rupert Murdoch’s applications for cross- ownership waivers to own The New York Post?
Subsidiary Questions 1. What frames are used in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal coverage of the requests? 2. How does the information that is included and excluded in the news stories relate to the frames being used? 3. What tone (positive, negative or neutral) is most often associated with the frames? 4. What are the common sources used in the stories and what role do they play in helping shape the frames? Literature Review History of the FCC and Ownership The purpose of regulatory bodies such as the Federal Communications Commission still is as crucial today as it was decades ago because technology advancements continue to alter the media market and thus compel regulatory adjustments. Radio was one of the first modern technological developments that dramatically changed long-distance communication and was responsible for contributing to the foundation of the electronic mass media industry in the United States. The Radio Act of 1912 was a communication regulatory initiative passed by Congress to coordinate point-to-point wireless communication. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover assumed the role of issuing licenses and assigning frequencies under this Act (McChesney, 1993, 13). The necessity of regulating the print medium further was not apparent in the beginning, but over time, the Radio Act of 1912 grew increasingly insufficient to handle the emergence of numerous radio broadcasters across the country that eventually formed the industry we know today. The idea of radio as a mass medium began in Pittsburgh in 1916 when Frank Conrad, a Westinghouse engineer, broadcast music and news from his garage to his friends with receivers. Westinghouse established KDKA in 1920 as the first commercial broadcast station in America (Campbell, Martin & Fabos, 2008, 126). In the early 1920’s most radio stations were run by non-profits including colleges and universities, civic groups, churches, and labor unions (McChesney, 1993, 14). By 1923, there were more than 600 commercial and noncommercial radio stations operating in the U.S. (Campbell, et al., 2008, 126). Hoover tried to reduce the overcrowding of the airwaves but the U.S.
Court of Appeals ruled that he overstepped his authority (Creech, 2007, 62). By the mid- 1920s a technological crisis emerged as a few conglomerates, mainly Radio Corporation of America (RCA), General Electric (GE), American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T), and Westinghouse, began to broadcast alongside non-profit broadcasters creating congestion in the airwaves as station frequencies were disturbed by one another (McChesney, 1993, 20). The domination of a few corporations and the growing popularity of the medium, which had 5.5 million radio sets in use by 1925, caused government officials to take notice and realize it was necessary to regulate this interstate communication highway (Campbell, et al., 2008, 126). Congress passed the Radio Act of 1927 in an attempt to correct the problem and bring stability to the ether by preserving broadcasting for the public domain (McChesney, 1993, 17). The Act was signed by President Calvin Coolidge and established a temporary agency, the Federal Radio Commission (FRC), that consisted of five members who were responsible for assigning broadcast licenses to serve the “public interest, convenience or necessity” (Creech, 2007, 63; McChesney, 1993, 17, 20). In its first year, the agency failed to accommodate 733 stations on the available 90 frequencies (McChesney, 1993, 20). The FRC was also approving more licenses to broadcasters affiliated with large commercial corporations rather than licenses for independent non-profit broadcasters on clear channels, or channels reserved for noncommercial uses by educational institutions and non-profit organizations. For instance, 23 of the 25 stations set aside for clear channels were instead being licensed to broadcasters affiliated with large networks, causing many broadcasters to be unsatisfied with their place on the spectrum (McChesney, 1993, 20). Senators threatened to block FRC renewal if legislation was not passed to guide the FRC and prevent more discrepancies like this in the future. Rep. Edwin Davis (D-TN) lobbied for an amendment that passed in March 1928, which required the FRC “to make a complete reallocation of the airwaves in order to equalize the number of stations among five geographic ‘zones’” (McChesney, 1993, 21). The FRC was not given any guidelines from Congress to determine “public interest, convenience, or necessity” and interpreted it to mean, “bring about the best possible broadcasting reception conditions throughout the United States” (McChesney, 1993, 25). In its General Order 40 in August of 1928 the FRC reallocated frequency
assignments and added regular and clear channels to the spectrum. The order, which went into effect in November, permitted the broadcast industry to be dominated by two nationwide chains: NBC and CBS (McChesney, 1993, 29). President Franklin D. Roosevelt assigned a committee to investigate the future of broadcasting and determine what the best approach would be for the public. Prior to initiating this investigation, the issues involving the FRC’s limited role in regulating communication was addressed. The Radio Act of 1927 provided the framework for the introduction of FM radio and television; however, it did not resolve “the division of authority over the various facets of communications” (Smith, et al., 1995, 37, 41). The Act treated broadcasting as a business rather than a public consumption and separated wire and wireless communication regulation between three agencies, the FRC, Department of Commerce, and Interstate Commerce Committee (Smith, et al., 1995, 41). This segregation of regulation limited each agency’s overall power and required too many responsibilities, particularly for the Commerce Department and Commerce Committee that did not possess the expertise for communication-related regulation. Rather than renew the Radio Act of 1927, Congress sought to establish a comprehensive organization that would regulate all areas of communication, both interstate and foreign. Attempts to pass a new bill that would abolish the FRC failed in 1929, but succeeded in 1934 when a new agency, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), was proposed to Congress by the president (Smith, et al., 1995, 42). Roosevelt signed the bill into law on June 18, 1934 (McChesney, 1993, 209). Less than a year later, the 7-member commission had its first report regarding radio station assignments for Roosevelt, specifically regarding reserving broadcast channels for non- profits. The commission reported that the current “system was functioning successfully and that there was no need for legislation to set aside channels for the exclusive use of non profit and education broadcasters,” marking the first ownership issue the FCC would address (McChesney, 1993, 223). Ownership Rules As radio grew in popularity and technology continued to change the way people communicated, the FCC would have to establish new ownership regulations and has often revised these rules to reflect the new market. In 1941, the FCC announced it would
not allow a network organization to have a license for more than one station in the same market, thus prohibiting common ownership of an AM radio, FM radio, or television broadcast station. Broadcasters petitioned the FCC’s new rules in court, which made its way up to the Supreme Court. On May 10, 1943, in a 5-2 decision with two justices not participating in the case, the justices ruled the Commission has the right and the power to make decisions regarding common ownership (NBC. v. U.S., 1943). The Court also found that the FCC’s decision to adjust the limits was supported by evidence. In the 1950s the FCC revised the common ownership rule again permitting an entity to own no more than 7 AM radio, 7 FM radio, and 7 television stations in the same market. This rule survived judicial scrutiny and was in place until the 1970s when the Commission implemented a cross-ownership ban that attempted to eliminate common ownership of any TV or radio stations in the same market, in addition to combinations of radio or TV stations with a daily newspaper (Prometheus v. FCC, 2004). The Supreme Court in 1978 upheld the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban as a “reasonable means of promoting the public interest in diversified mass communications” in FCC v. National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting, et al. In the 1980s the FCC began deregulating media ownership. As the number of radio stations had grown into the thousands in a few decades, there were fewer advertisers to support the rising programming and administrative costs for broadcasts. The FCC determined that raising the ownership limits and allowing duopolies would help prevent struggling radio stations from failing because stations would be able to offer joint advertising packages and share facilities and promotion and production teams (“Sound Salvation,” 1992). In 1985, the FCC increased the number of radio and television stations one could own from 21 stations (7 AM, 7 FM and 7 TV stations) to 36 stations (12 AM, 12 FM and 12 TV stations) while prohibiting firms from owning more than one of each station (AM and FM) in any market or reaching more than 25% of the national audience (Creech, 2007, 97; “Sound Salvation,” 1992). In 1989, the FCC began to allow waiver requests for the radio/TV cross-ownership rule for the largest 25 television markets (Prometheus v. FCC, 2004). The Commission “declared it would look favorably upon requests where there would be thirty independently owned broadcast ‘voices’ remaining in the market after consolidation” (Prometheus v. FCC, 2004).
In March of 1992, the FCC had plans to increase the 12-12-12 broadcast ownership limits to 30-30-30, but after disputes among lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the Commission only increased the limit to 18-18-18 (Farhi, 1992). In September of 1994, the FCC received little opposition when it increased the national ownership limit to 20 AM, 20 FM and, 20 television stations (Petrozzello, 1994). The 1996 Telecommunications Act overhauled the Communications Act of 1934. This legislation eliminated former ownership rules and imposed new rules. For example, it raised the national television audience cap from 25% to 35%. The Act eliminated all limits on national radio ownership and eased the local radio ownership limits to allow one owner to oversee up to eight co-owned radio stations in the largest markets (Prometheus v. FCC, 2004). It also expanded the “applicability of the one-to-a-market radio/TV cross- ownership waiver to the fifty largest markets,” twice as many as less than a decade before. Through this legislation, Congress instructed the Federal Communications Commission to review the potential retention, modification, or elimination of the existing television ownership limits and to review broadcast ownership rules biennially “to determine whether any such rules are necessary in the public interest as the result of competition” (Prometheus v. FCC, 2004). If the FCC found a rule to no longer be in the public interest, it was expected to repeal or modify such regulation. Three years later, in 1999, the FCC declared a new duopoly rule that would allow two TV stations to be owned by the same company as long as neither station was ranked among the top four largest stations in the market (typically ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) and as long as there were eight other independently owned stations remaining after the merger. The Commission also relaxed the one-to-a-market radio/television cross- ownership restriction, allowing broadcast combinations to exist depending on the size of the market (Prometheus v. FCC, 2004). In 2000, in accordance with the 1996 Act, the FCC released its Biennial Regulatory Review declaring it would maintain the 35% national audience cap as outlined by Congress two years prior because it did indeed remain in the public interest. Three years later, the FCC released the 2002 Biennial Regulatory Review Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that made public the Commission’s decision to review its broadcast ownership rules regarding the national audience cap, local television rule,
radio/television and newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rules, and the dual network rule. The FCC wanted to increase the national audience reach cap from 35% to 45%, allow duopolies in markets with 17 or fewer television stations and allow duopolies to become triopolies in markets with 18 or more television stations. The report outlined repeal of both the newspaper/broadcast and radio/television cross-ownership bans and replacement of them with a single Cross-Media Limit that would set limits on both combinations depending on the market size. Finally, the Commission wanted to relax the dual network rule and allow a TV station to affiliate with more than one network as long as it was not affiliated with more than one of the four largest networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC). The dual network rule would also permit common ownership of networks with the exclusion of the top four. Prometheus Radio Project was one of the many organizations that filed petitions against the revisions. Nearly 2 million consumers filed statements regarding the rule changes. Prior to the case being heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Congress amended the national television audience cap and approved increasing it from 35% to 39%. The court partly upheld but also remanded the rules proposed by the Commission. The court upheld the four-tier restriction for the dual network rule and agreed the change would indeed serve the public interest. For the rules that were struck down, the court ruled the FCC did not provide enough justification for its numerical limits on television and radio ownership for duopolies and triopolies. The court also remanded to the FCC the weights it was placing on certain markets for the Cross- Media Limit. While the Court did affirm the Commission’s decision to eliminate the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban, it stayed the decision until further notice pending the Commission’s review of the rules (See Appendix A; Pember & Calvert, 2008, 592; “Rules Adopted in the Quadrennial Review Order,” 2008). On November 13, 2007, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced the Commission had completed its review of broadcast rules, as mandated by the court in Prometheus, and voted to eliminate the newspaper/broadcast cross ownership rule for the top 20 markets, which would “preserve the viability of newspapers by allowing them to share their operational costs across multiple media platforms” (Diamond, 2007). While this change was minor compared to what the FCC wanted to do in 2003, Senators Bryon
Dorgan (D-ND), and Trent Lott (R-MS), introduced S.2332, the Media Ownership Act of 2007, which would stop the FCC from imposing this change (Open Congress, 2008). The bill proposed enacting a 90-day period during which the public would have the opportunity “to comment on any proposed media ownership rules put forward by the FCC” (Kitsch and Timpe, 2007). The bill was never voted on by the full Senate and therefore, since the proposed legislation did not evolve further in Congress, the bill was cleared from the books at the close of the 110th session (“Bills,” 2008). Similar legislation has not yet been introduced in the 111th Congress. Additionally, the stay imposed by the Court of Appeals on the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule changes in 2003 and in 2007 remains in effect six years later pending further review by the Court (Eggerton, 2009). According to media scholar Robert McChesney, this “deregulation” of media policies really means “regulation on behalf of private interests with no pretense of regulation on behalf of the public” (Alper & Robb, 2003). He explains that the current media system is a result of the government policies that created it. McChesney says these corporate mergers are good for companies and make a lot of economic sense but they don’t have anything to do with the public’s interests (Alper & Robb, 2003). In essence, the rules are in place to ensure the public’s interest in what happens within the media industry. On the other side of the issue, the economic sense behind the loosening of the rules is believed to ultimately benefit the public interest. Broadcasting and Cable magazine has argued the FCC’s ownership regulations get in the way of TV and radio stations’ ability to be preserved in smaller markets by allowing them to combine and thus continue to serve the public (“Open Hopes,” 2008). Certain powers the government exerts over the broadcast media entities are also considered a violation of the media’s free speech rights as guaranteed under the First Amendment because there are many rules and restrictions that must be obeyed concerning political advertising, language usage on the air, and minimal expectations of educational programming, to name a few. These rules that directly affect the media’s ability as to what they can and can’t say directly affect the public. These two polar positions on the issue of media ownership are important to understand since they play a role in this study.
FCC as a Public Policy Agency The Federal Communications Commission is a public policy agency that was designed to regulate the electronic media in order “to encourage desirable outcomes or to remedy proven problems” (Buckley, 2003, 25). All regulatory agencies are expected to establish rules that are justified and appropriate. As it pertains to the FCC, the public interest, convenience, and necessity (PICAN) is the primary criterion set up by Congress to help the Commission determine what rules are justified and appropriate. Regulatory agencies accomplish their goals by use of various instruments and processes (Buckley, 2003, 48). When the FCC proposes rule changes, it seeks out public comment to ensure the modifications will serve the public interest. This “transparency and openness makes it difficult for a regulator to ignore genuine inputs” (Buckely, 2003, 57) However the Commission can impose a rule change in spite of public input. Communication scholar Michael McGregor says public participation is important because it “helps ensure that governmental institutions are responsive and accountable to its citizens,” “creates venues for individuals and groups to influence decisions that affect them,” and “provides stability to the democratic system” (2006, 210). It’s not uncommon for public interest groups to petition the Commission directly or take the FCC to court for judicial review of its decisions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court are responsible for reviewing any challenges to the FCC’s decisions (Smith, Meeske & Wright, 1995, 96). If the courts find the Commission did not justify its decision-making thoroughly or rules that certain changes violate the Constitution, the FCC must comply with these orders. Regulatory agencies are also empowered to enforce their own rules and policies. The “public interest standard [PICAN] has become the basis for FCC rules, policy decisions, and evaluations of the performance of radio and television stations” since it was included in the FCC’s guidelines in the Communications Act of 1934 (Smith, et al., 1995, 237). The FCC accomplishes this by issuing warnings, imposing fines, adding conditions to license renewals, and revoking licenses of broadcasters that violate the rules. Since the FCC’s changes in rules are not final in the eyes of the courts, its powers are not absolute either, since Congress supervises the Commission and its actions (Buckley, 2003, 58). Congress has the power to modify the Communications Act that
outlines the agency’s powers and responsibilities, and override any of its decisions in addition to controlling its budget (Smith, et al., 1995, 101). The courts and legislators are not the only players that help shape media policy. The president nominates the commissioners that make these important decisions and the Senate is responsible for approving these appointees. In addition to citizen groups that monitor the FCC’s actions, other organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission play a role in shaping media policy because of their direct relationships with media organizations and consumers (Smith, et al., 1995). Despite the ways in which the public and governmental authorities can restrict the Federal Communications Commission, media ownership rules remain unsuccessful in satisfying all parties involved. The area of media ownership is one of the earliest forms of regulation the FCC instigated but is still one of the most unsettled to date. No one limit pleases both the public and the media industry simultaneously. Corporate media owners see concentration as a way to slash costs and increase revenue and lobby heavily in favor of such deregulation (Alper & Robb, 2003). According to McChesney, concentration allows for horizontal and vertical integration of media companies, which enables a media conglomerate to control all levels of production, promotion and advertising, thus quashing competitors (Alper & Robb, 2003). As more family-owned outlets are bought- out or merged with larger corporations, fewer companies are dominating the market (Warf, 2007, 89). According to media scholar Barney Warf, between 1993 and 2000, telecommunication mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. resulted in “unprecedented waves of corporate consolidations” that totaled $1.3 trillion (2007, 90). Today the media are made up of three tiers of companies. The first tier is dominated by a handful of large conglomerates that account for 75% of the U.S. television audience and 90% of the television news audience (Alper & Robb, 2003; Warf, 2007, 91). As of 2007 this tier includes Time Warner, Comcast Corporation, Walt Disney Company, News Corporation, DirecTV Group, General Electric Company, CBS Corporation, and Cox Enterprises (Advertising Age, 2008). The second tier is made up of major chains such as The New York Times Company, McClatchy Company, Sirius XM Radio, and The Washington Post Company (Advertising Age, 2008). The third tier has
thousands of smaller companies such as Radio One, Philadelphia Media Holdings, RCN Corp., LIN TV Corp., and Macrovision Solutions Corp. that are known for doing what the giants don’t find profitable: fill a local niche market (Advertising Age, 2008; Alper & Robb, 2003). According to McChesney, it’s misleading to say there are thousands of media companies out there because only a couple dozen dominate the system (Alper & Robb, 2003). The broadcast ownership rules that allow these companies to grow so large are not set in stone, as previously noted. However, there is one other way media companies can bypass these rules besides heavy lobbying of the FCC and members of Congress. Media owners can apply for waivers to be exempt from a regulation temporarily or permanently. In some circumstances waivers that are granted are challenged by public interest groups and Congress and may end up in court. The Federal Communications Commission deals with these waiver requests on a case-by-case basis; there is no set policy. Upon a waiver request, the applicant is entitled to a full hearing before the request “can be denied on the ground that public interest, convenience, and necessity will not be served by granting thereof” (“Telecommunications,” 2001). News Corporation Background This study will examine how News Corporation’s cross-ownership waiver requests for the New York Post and television stations in the same market are framed in newspapers. News Corporation was chosen as the focus of this study for several reasons. First, it is ranked within the top five conglomerates in the U.S. market. Second, it owns exclusively media properties while other conglomerates invest in non-media companies including the Walt Disney Company, which owns Disney cruise ships, clothing stores, and amusement parks in addition to radio and TV stations. Third, News Corporation has had the same CEO since its founding and entry in the U.S. market in 1980. Unlike other corporate leaders with frequent turnover, Rupert Murdoch has maintained his position as CEO for News Corporation for over twenty-five years, a company he created and built. Finally, Murdoch has a unique reputation as being a rebel leader and extreme nonconformist in the media world. Companies periodically change leadership to keep a continuous flow of innovative ideas in hopes of maintaining a competitive edge with
other businesses. News Corporation has demonstrated that it is capable of competing with other conglomerates under the long-term leadership of Rupert Murdoch. Originally from Australia, Murdoch came to the United States to expand his media empire in 1976 when he bought the New York Post (Aluetta, 1995). Slowly the media business he inherited from his father grew to include several newspapers, tabloids, and TV stations in three countries: Australia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. In the States he bought seven Hollywood studios and turned them into a new network called Fox in 1985. Other major investments included the TV Guide and book publishing companies (Aluetta, 1995). News Corporation is one of the largest media empires and is truly global in its reach and influence (Thussu, 2006, 89). From the beginning, Murdoch created a reputation for himself of using sensationalism to attract an audience. When he bought The Sun in England, he transformed it into a tabloid full of entertainment news complete with a different nude female featured each day (Aluetta, 1995). When he bought the New York Post, many thought he “desecrated” it by making it more conservative and more edgy and replacing a quarter of the staff with tabloid reporters (Aluetta, 1995). Biographer Michael Wolff claims that the News Corp. CEO seeks “fundamental contrariness” (2008, 262). Wolff explains, “He’s not only using his papers to sell his views. He’s using his views to sell his papers – choosing views that will sell not because they’re consistent or popular but because they’re dramatic” (Wolff, 2008, 262). Based on extensive interviews with Murdoch and News Corp. executives, Wolff reports Murdoch “entirely alters the political landscape in New York” within a year of purchasing the New York Post (2008, 269). “In a precise calculation, he decides to use the Post as an instrument to elect somebody – he understands that it doesn’t really matter whom, just that the Post be responsible” (Wolff, 2008, 269). Murdoch’s endorsements in the form of constant coverage, complete with “huge photos” and “great personal stories,” assisted New York City Mayor Ed Koch in being elected. Murdoch entered politics in late 1979 when he endorsed Margaret Thatcher for prime minister of the United Kingdom, not because he liked politics but rather for the power (Hack, 2003, 172). The Sun’s headline on Election Day read: “Vote Tory This Time. It’s the Only Way to Stop the Rot” (Hack, 2003, 173). “Sun subscribers heeded the advice, and on the strength of
their votes pushed Margaret Thatcher into power” (Hack, 2003, 173). Australia’s Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and England’s Prime Minister Tony Blair, are two other elected officials who have acknowledged that Murdoch’s media outlets, in countries and cities where he has a stake in the economy, has helped them get into office (Aluetta, 1995; Thussu, 2006, 91; Wolff, 2008, 269). He also uses these outlets to push his own agenda; for example, slanting the coverage of the War on Terrorism to reflect his support for such an initiative (Thussu, 2006, 91). By 2002, Murdoch owned more than 750 businesses in 50 countries worldwide. Three-quarters of his earnings come from the U.S. market (Warf, 2007, 96). According to Thussu: Murdoch has shown an exemplary knack in dealing with the media and entertainment business. His risk-taking attitude, combined with a deep knowledge of the media industries and an uncanny ability to feel the popular pulse, account for his extraordinary success. (2006, 89) The attention his outlets are receiving from consumers is staggering. According to a Pew Research Center report, “since 2000, the number of Americans who regularly watch Fox News has increased by nearly half from 17% to 25% while audiences for other cable outlets have been flat at best” (Warf, 2007, 98). Rupert Murdoch is also not afraid of regulatory authorities. He has applied for waivers of the Federal Communications Commission’s ownership rules on numerous occasions, especially in the New York City and Boston markets. Part of this study will set out to understand how the FCC and courts manage the waiver requests from Murdoch for the New York Post. Framing While the technological advances of the American mass media have dramatically changed their appearance and the ways in which information reaches the public, the manner in which reporters decide what to cover and what facts to include in the stories has also changed over time. In the earliest days of American journalism, “content of the news was primarily a description of events” (Thorson, 2005, 212). As the press matured, “most newspapers took a point of view, and there was free intermingling of opinion in the ‘description’ of events” (2005, 213). Newspaper owners believed the opinions that mingled with the descriptions of events attracted readers who agreed with the paper’s
viewpoints while repelling potential readers who did not. The concept of objectivity in newspaper coverage did not begin until the late 19th century, according to media scholar Michael Schudson (Thorson, 2005, 213). Despite the goal to be objective in reporting, Shudson claims “there is plenty of interpretation not only in the telling of stories, but also in the selection of which stories and whose stories to tell” (Thorson, 2005, 213). This process is known as gate keeping. Once a communicator chooses a story to cover, he or she makes other subjective decisions about how the story should be organized. This includes making choices of what information should be included and excluded and how it should be presented. These decisions result in what are known as frames. According to Robert Entman: To frame is to select aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient by promoting a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation and/or treatment recommendation for the item described. (1993, 52) In essence, the media are not only telling the public what to think about but how to think about the topic. Tankard, Hendrickson, Silberman, Bliss and Ghanem have similarly defined a frame as “a central organizing idea for news content that supplies a context and suggests what the issue is through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion, and elaboration” (Reese, 2001, 10). Framing scholars have accepted four locations where frames can be found including the communicator, the text, the receiver, and the culture (Entman, 1993, 52). This study is concerned only about the communicator and the text. The communicators (writer, interviewee, etc.) “make conscious or unconscious framing judgments in deciding what to say guided by frames (often called schemata) that organize their belief systems” and the text is “manifested by the presence or absence of certain keywords, stock phrases, stereotyped images, sources of information, and sentences that provide thematically reinforcing clusters of facts or judgments” (Entman, 1993, 52). In addition to reading the articles for tone and word choices, the sources (interviewees, documents) present in the stories will also help in determining what frames are used. According to Entman, politicians compete with each other and with journalists to frame news that reflects their interests (1993, 55). In this case, members of Congress, the FCC, the media, and advocacy groups to name a few will be competing with each other to establish frames in a text. This study will set out to determine if the prominence of
particular frames that dominate texts correlate with the publication’s position of the waiver requests as outlined in editorials. Framing is powerful because of its ability in a text or media presentation to define a situation, define the issues, or set terms of a debate without an audience realizing it is happening (Tankard, 2001, 96). According to Teun van Dijk, the attention given to framing “is justified when we realize how important news is in our everyday lives. Most of our social and political knowledge about the world derive from dozens of news reports we read or see everyday” (1991, 110). Therefore, frames that are used have an impact on how the public interprets and responds to the news (Patterson & Seib, 2005, 193). Framing is also sophisticated because it goes beyond the pro and con positions and provides the possibility of adding “complex emotional responses” or attitudes and “a cognitive dimension” or beliefs (Tankard, 2001, 96). Framing analysis can either take a qualitative or a quantitative approach. This study will take a qualitative approach because the research question is concerned with the description of the frame(s) being used, not the quantity or frequency of them. Qualitative analysis of texts allows for discovery of new insights unlike quantitative analysis that searches for only a select few types of frames (Hertog & McLeod, 2001, 153). Framing can be found in more places than the body of a story. These include the headline, lead paragraph, main events, context, history, verbal reactions, and comments (van Dijk, 1991, 114). Framing is also not limited to news articles, but can be found in newspaper columns, which are included in this study (Bantimaroudis & Ban, 2001, 178). Usually one researcher becomes the “expert” at identifying frames when a qualitative analysis is conducted (Tankard, 2001, 101). For this study, this will also be the case because there is extensive background information that must be read and understood before the analysis of the newspaper articles can begin. This background reading will assist in not only identifying frames but also in determining the prior conditions that produced those frames (D’Angelo, 2002, 873). Case Study Overview The New York Post is the newspaper entity involved in the newspaper-TV cross- ownership waivers that are the focus of this study. The Post is a tabloid paper that tends to have more of a focus on celebrities and gossip beyond the standard daily news,
business and sports reports. “The Post – the only real daily tabloid in America – embodies and influences the circus of pop and media culture that has migrated to so many other media outlets and which has left so many newspapers behind” (Wolff, 2008, 209). It is one of the oldest continually published newspapers in the nation, founded as The New York Evening Post in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton; however, it is not the first American tabloid. That honor belongs to the New York Daily News (Aleutta, 2003, 119, 126). The Post has driven its owners in the last two decades into millions of dollars of debt. By 2007, the paper was costing Murdoch $50 million a year (Wolff, 2008, 209). Since the cross-ownership waivers that are the focus of this study pertain to television and newspaper outlets, it’s appropriate that the newspaper coverage of these waiver requests should be the focus of this analysis. First, newspapers are not regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, opening the door for unique perspectives from a medium somewhat removed from the on goings of the Commission’s rules and regulations. Second, the print medium also allows for more in-depth coverage of events than broadcast. Newspaper stories are constrained by physical space on a page whereas the news holes in television broadcast are constrained by time. Typically, newspaper stories are longer than broadcast stories and provide a journalist more room for detail. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are the two newspapers that have been chosen for this inductive approach due to the diverging positions the papers take regarding media ownership. During the time period in which News Corp. sought cross-ownership waivers for the Post (1985-2001), both publications have on more than one occasion taken a strong stance on the issue of media ownership in the form of editorials. The New York Times in 2000 published an editorial that explained the newspaper’s opinion that deregulation of media ownership, or a loosening of the restrictions, was bad for diversity, hurt the public interest, and would allow for “excessive concentration” (“FCC’s Ownership Rules,” 2000, 20). The following year, the Times revisited the issue when Rupert Murdoch was seeking a waiver after merging with Chris- Craft Industries. The paper revealed in an editorial that it supported waivers when the survival of an entity was threatened. Concerning the 2001 cross-ownership waiver for the Post and WWOR-TV in New York City, the paper was adamant that a waiver should not have been issued by the FCC because no such emergency existed for either station (“FCC
Loosens Rules,” 2001, 10). In 2002, the editorial board said, “it is important to the health of a democracy that a few powerful economic interests do not monopolize information outlets” (“Protecting Media Diversity,” 2002, 14). The Times acknowledged that the rollback of ownership limits was “irreversible” and argued for “sensible deregulation” that took into account not only the marketplace and economies of scale but considered how consumers would be affected. Commentaries that have appeared on the newspaper’s editorial page arguing against deregulation/big media include a contributing commentary by Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC), who played a role in the cross-ownership waiver that Murdoch sought in 1988. In Hollings’ column, titled “Why Murdoch doesn’t deserve a waiver,” the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said that while he has “been a proponent of reasoned deregulation of the broadcast industry” he felt the limits on ownership were reasonable and if they were increased, concentration in the media would no longer be forestalled, diverse opinions would be reduced, and the freedom of speech and press would be hindered (1988). In response to Murdoch’s decision to seek a waiver in 1985, Congress warned the Federal Communications Commission that a ban on further waivers of cross-ownership rules would be issued. Hollings, the mastermind behind this resolution, said in his opinion that the FCC’s issuing such an ownership waiver was an “ultimate assault on the public interest” (Hollings, 1988). Around the same time, the Times published an editorial that essentially argued that, regardless of whether Congress’s legislation were right or wrong, “Mr. Murdoch knew the rules when he bought the properties” suggesting he should have never put himself in a position to request a waiver of the rules (“Wrong Even When Right,” 1988). The theme of the editorials published by the Times have been that as media ownership limits are relaxed, diversity is harmed, the public interest is ignored, and the increase in limits allows for ownership concentration. Contrary to the Times, the Wall Street Journal has taken a more optimistic position regarding the FCC’s trend toward increasing ownership limits. Like the Times, the Journal has published editorials during the time period Murdoch sought waivers for the Post. After News Corp. received a two-year waiver to continue to own the Post before being forced to sell it off in 1988, the Journal reveals that it didn’t agree with the
content of Murdoch’s newspapers, it believed the cross-ownership waiver had preserved New York City as a three-paper town (“Free Rupert Murdoch,” 1985). In 1988, the Journal commended the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for ruling legislation passed by Congress that banned all future FCC-issued waivers for cross-ownership rules unconstitutional. The paper acknowledged the legislation was targeted at Murdoch and advised the FCC to “ignore the unrestrained hatred congressman hold for him” (“Contempts of Congress,” 1988). This comment is noteworthy in particular since the Journal is known for disagreeing with Murdoch’s business ways, yet set aside differences in support of helping newspapers survive. Today Rupert Murdoch owns the newspaper. The theme of saving a newspaper from doom is repeated in a 1993 editorial that accused Senator Ted Kennedy of setting out to destroy two of Murdoch’s newspapers in New York and Boston because he disagreed with them and was offended by the political views of their owner (“Ted Kennedy Killed the Post,” 1993). Finally, in 2003, the Journal expressed support for FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s effort to “tweak” ownership rules that are “antiques” (“Free the Media Moguls,” A16). The paper argued that since there are thousands of sources to turn to for news, there should not be a concern for extensive mergers. According to the editorial, what mergers would occur would mean “a fresh parade of CEOs” in the marketplace (“Free the Media Moguls,” 2003, A16). The paper noted that “getting the government out of the business altogether of saying who can or can’t own a printing press or broadcast station” should be added to the agenda (“Free the Media Moguls,” 2003, A16). Reflected in the Journal’s editorials is support for cross- ownership waivers because they not only save newspapers, but also preserve the marketplace because the rules are obsolete and get in the way of a newspaper’s ability to survive. These editorials are an extension of the roles these publications play in the New York market. The Times is a direct competitor with the Post and has closely monitored News Corp.’s actions because of its concerns with content at rival papers and what a change in ownership would mean in terms of this competition. Both of these competing papers serve the larger community and strive for content that this audience. The Journal on the other hand is more concerned with the business aspect of the situation since it caters to the business community. The contrasting audiences and opinions regarding
media ownership are believed to provide an array of frames to readers. The frames the author expects to find will be discussed more in depth later. In addition to the stances both newspapers take on media ownership, it is also important to take into consideration the parent companies of these papers. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation currently owns the Journal, a purchase he made in late July 2007. Prior to Murdoch’s acquiring of the paper, the parent company of this newspaper throughout the time period in which its articles will be analyzed (1985-2001) was Dow Jones, a financial news service and newspaper company started by Charles Dow and Eddie Jones in 1882 (Wolff, 2008, 86). Clarence Barron, with whom the founders had a news-sharing arrangement, bought the business. His stepdaughter, Jane Barron, married into the Bancroft family; it is the Bancroft lineage that had owned this corporation since the early 1900s until Murdoch purchased it in 2007 (Wolff, 2008, 86). The paper’s close ties with the Dow Jones financial news service are the likely reason it has focused so much on the business world. In addition to the Journal, the company owns several smaller local city papers across the country and Barron’s, a magazine and book publishing company (“Who Owns What,” 2009). The Times is owned by the New York Times Company. Originally founded as the New York Daily Times, it was first published in 1851 by Henry Jarvis Raymond and George Jones (“America’s leading Media Companies,” 2005). Adolph Ochs acquired the paper in 1896 and led it into “international prominence” that has been carried on by his descendants, particularly the Sulzberger family (“America’s leading Media Companies,” 2005). Arthur Ochs Sulzberger served as chairman and publisher from 1963 to 1992, when his son Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., replaced him (Aluetta, 2003, 29). In addition to the Times, the company also owns several smaller city papers across the country and one radio station in New York, WQCR-FM (“Who Owns What,” 2009). Method Part 1: Reviewing Waiver Documentation In order to gain better insight into how the Federal Communications Commission handles cross-ownership waivers, it is necessary to review its official opinions. News Corporation applied for cross-ownership waivers to maintain control of a TV station and the Post in the New York City market. The opinions that will be examined span
seventeen years. In 1985, News Corp. was granted a temporary 24-month cross- ownership waiver but was subsequently denied an extension of this waiver in 1988, forcing it to sell off an entity to comply with FCC rules. In 1993, the Commission granted a permanent waiver for cross-ownership of a television station and newspaper in the same market. However, in 2001 the FCC granted News Corp. another temporary 24-month waiver after the company merged with Chris-Craft Industries and became the owner of several more TV stations in the same market as the Post, which further violated the FCC’s ownership rules and nullified the permanent waiver issued in 1993. In addition to these opinions, the 1993 petition against the FCC’s granting a permanent waiver for Murdoch to repurchase the Post will be analyzed to understand how public interest groups feel about this regulatory action and how the FCC manages challenges to its decisions. In total there are five FCC documents that will be read strictly for historical purposes that will assist in the framing analysis in terms of understanding what facts were included and excluded in the stories. Not all of these decisions end with the commissioners. In a couple of instances, the courts have become involved in these rulings. In 1988, the Court of Appeals also denied granting News Corporation a waiver extension. In 1995, the court denied a petition from the NAACP regarding the 1993 waiver granted to News Corp. to repurchase the Post. In 2002, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Commission’s decision to allow the News Corp/Chris-Craft merger as long as properties were sold after the temporary waiver had expired. In this case, Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, et al. v. FCC, the court ruled in favor of the Commission and reviewed the FCC’s justification of public interest in allowing the merger. In total, there are three case opinions that will be read for historical purposes. These documents will provide the foundation for this study. Prior to analyzing newspaper coverage of these facts, it is imperative official documents that contain those facts are read and understood. In addition to the facts, these reports will contain viewpoints that will provide additional information for the discussion of the various perspectives regarding media ownership in the concluding chapter.
Part 2: Framing Analysis of Newspapers To qualitatively analyze the newspapers for framing, the primary researcher will read the stories to determine what information was included and excluded based on the information gathered from the first part of this study. In addition, the reader will evaluate how the information that is included is presented. This will include evaluation of keywords and phrases commonly used in association with particular frames. The tone of each story and how it relates to the frame(s) will also be documented. Bantimaroudis and Ban’s study entitled “Covering the Crisis in Somalia: Framing Choices by the New York Times and the Manchester Guardian” focused on many framing mechanisms including photos, quotes, headlines, and subheads (2001, 177). Similarly, this study will focus particularly on the choice of words that are used to describe the waiver requests but will also include an analysis of the phrases found in the headlines and lead paragraphs. In addition, the sources and the quotes used will also be evaluated, since they are usually chosen by the communicator to support the frame that is applied. How News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch is portrayed is equally important, since this study is not concentrating solely on one type of waiver but also on one company. The manner in which Rupert Murdoch is described to the reader is very important and has the potential to be persuasive. Discovering how he is framed and what language is chosen will contribute to the overall framing analysis. After the stories have been carefully read and reread for tone and types of frames used, data will be described and assessed for prominence that may indicate the opinion of the news organization. In addition, the frames found will be evaluated to determine how their applications vary between the papers. Another aspect of the qualitative analysis procedure that will be borrowed from Bantimaroudis and Ban is determining whether there are changes in framing patterns during the time period of the coverage. A change in what frames are being used or what words are chosen to represent those frames may indicate a change in the way a situation is interpreted. Based on the opinions reflected in the Times’ and Journal’s editorials, the author expects the frames will reflect these stances. Frames present in the New York Times’ coverage are expected to present the waiver requests as being negative in terms of the public interest and in preserving diverse voices within the media industry. The author expects these frames will focus on big
media companies, what they are gaining from these waivers and thus taking away from society and smaller media companies. In terms of the Wall Street Journal’s use of frames, the author expects that the frames will present the waivers as being good for business, saving a newspaper, and serving the public interest. The Journal’s frames are expected to focus on waivers as helping the economy grow/stabilize. Article Population The articles from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were found through LexisNexis and Factiva. Due to the extensive coverage by both publications that resulted in approximately one hundred articles from each, other events that occurred during the time News Corp. sought waivers that do no directly relate to this process, such as sales and repurchases, are excluded from this study. This includes articles concerning union conflicts at the Post, changes within the paper upon Murdoch’s repurchase, cross- ownership issues in the Boston market, and the FCC’s foreign ownership investigation into News Corporation and Murdoch. Articles focusing on the cross-ownership waiver requests, FCC and court decisions, and Congressional involvement were selected for this research. There are 52 New York Times articles and 37 Wall Street Journal articles, resulting in a sample size of 89 news stories, briefs, and commentaries that will be analyzed for frames. Chapter Preview Chapter Two: In this chapter, the waiver requests submitted by News Corporation, the Commission’s decision and subsequent petitions and court cases will be analyzed. While each document provides copious amounts of detail, the overall arguments made by various parties involved, including News Corp., the FCC, Congress, petitioners, and the reasoning behind the final decisions will be the focus of this chapter. The relationship between the FCC and Congress is also discussed in detail as this relationship impacts the outcome of Murdoch’s 1988 waiver request. Chapter Three: The framing theory will be discussed in detail tracing its history, its purpose to scholars, and providing examples of how it can be used in research. The differences between qualitative and quantitative studies will be compared and the method that was used in this study will be explained in specific detail.
Chapter Four: This chapter will reveal the frames that were found in the analysis. The frames will be described and details pertaining to the presence of keywords and phrases, sources and tone will be offered. The information that was covered and excluded by both publications will also be explored. The frames found within the Wall Street Journal and New York Times will be compared to each other to determine if the newspapers used a similar frame at any given time. Chapter Five: The frames that were found in this study will be evaluated further in this chapter. The functions of the frames will be determined and the author will discuss the potential influences prior events or inclusion/exclusion of information may have had on the frames. The results of the analysis will also be discussed in depth, examining whether the frames did parallel the publication’s opinion and which hypotheses were found to be accurate or inaccurate. Based on the results of this analysis, the author will also offer future researchers advice on avoiding limitations that were present in this study.
CHAPTER TWO History of the Cross-ownership Waiver and the New York Post Rupert Murdoch is an old-fashioned newspaperman. His love for the printed word is the underlying reason why he seeks out these sometimes non-viable properties to add to his empire (Wolff, 2008). The New York Post is one of the occasionally non-viable newspapers that he has sought to buy and maintain ownership of over the last two decades through waivers of the Federal Communications Commission’s ownership rules. Congress has on at least one occasion prevented him from accomplishing this goal. Congress and Regulatory Agencies Congress established the Federal Communications Commission through its adoption of the Communications Act of 1934. To this day it exercises its power to oversee the agency, amend the Act and control the FCC. The Commission is considered an independent agency responsible for “regulating interstate and internal communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable” (“About the FCC,” 2009). This independence, however, is limiting since its decisions can be overruled by Congress or appealed to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for further review. Senate and House committees and subcommittees, particularly the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and each respective communications subcommittees, are where most of the FCC oversight from the government originates (Krasnow, Longley & Terry, 1982, 111; Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 2008, 293; Smith, et al., 1995, 103). Lobby groups including the National Association of Broadcasters attempt to exert pressure on Congress or the Commission with the intention of bringing about change to satisfy their own needs (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 89; Smith, et al., 1995, 79). Ultimately, government oversight is a result of the senators’ and representatives’ interests in satisfying their own personal desires for telecommunication policy combined with the necessity of satisfying constituents and lobbyists. Congress can achieve its goals of modifying the FCC’s operations through affirming or denying nominees to serve on the Commission, initiating investigations, passing legislation, or placing limitations on the uses of appropriated funds. Today’s Commission is made of up five members who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. When the president is confronted with the
decision of choosing a new commissioner to fill a vacant seat, senators make recommendations of individuals whom they find to be ideal for the job. When the president has chosen a nominee, senators from the nominee’s state and the president’s political party are consulted for feedback (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 107; Smith, et al., 1995, 102). No more than three commissioners can be from the same political party so as to ensure partisan balance. Appointees serve five-year terms unless an appointee is filling the seat for a former commissioner whose term is unexpired; in which case they only serve out the remainder of the former commissioner’s term (Federal Communications Commission, 2002, 3; Smith, et al., 1995, 52; “About the FCC,” 2009). Since there is a three-to-a-party rule for the Commission, the president may have to appoint an individual that is not from his party. Regardless of the political party affiliation of a nominee, the president tries to appoint people who “reflect the administration’s political philosophy and agenda” (Smith, et al., 1995, 52). The Senate can control the FCC by means of determining who serves on the Commission. The Senate Commerce Committee must first confirm every presidential appointment or reappointment before recommending the nominee to the full Senate for confirmation (Smith, et al., 1995, 51). Since senators play an important role in the confirmation process, new commissioners tend to give careful consideration to matters expressed by these individuals (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 107). At the Senate confirmation hearings for FCC appointments, congressional members attempt to advise and influence the nominee’s position on particular policy matters and extract promises from the candidate regarding future reports (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 107; Smith, et al., 1995, 103). When the White House makes an appointment around election time, “Congress, especially when controlled by a party different from that of the president, is usually hesitant to confirm appointments” (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 108). In addition, if a powerful senator objects to the choice of the nominee, he or she can delay or block the appointment altogether (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 107; Smith, et al., 1995, 103). Congressional committees and subcommittees that oversee the Commission continually monitor the commissioners and the agency as a whole. This supervision is mandatory under the Legislative Reorganization Acts of 1946 and 1970: “each standing committee of the Senate and the House ‘shall review and study on a continuing basis, the
application, administration, and execution’ by administrative agencies of any law within its jurisdiction” (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 111). Hearings on proposed legislation for the Communications Act or hearings concerning general activities at the Commission are the primary ways in which this monitoring is practiced (Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 2008, 293; Krasnow, et al., 1982, 111). Investigations initiated by Congress are another way in which the FCC is monitored by government. These inspections can be narrow and focus on specific FCC actions or broad investigations that look into controversial industry issues. Inquiries may also examine the FCC’s structure and operations or study a broadcast-related issue that does not necessarily target the FCC but could in the future if Congress decides to pass legislation that would require the FCC to take on a new responsibility (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 102; Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 2008, 293). These investigations can potentially lead to promising outcomes for the public interest. Between 1957 and 1961, Rep. Oren Harris (D-AR), led an investigation into FCC properties that uncovered payola in the recording and broadcast industries and rigged television quiz shows (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 101). These discoveries led to legislation that gave the FCC more authority to take action against such illegal practices. These investigations may not always originate out of concern for the public interest but may be a reflection of the clash between political parties. An FCC where three commissioners are from a political party other than the majority party in Congress are likely to be subjected to more investigations and tougher oversight hearings than if the majority of the commissioners were from the same party as that of Congress (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 106). “Hearings, investigations and studies provide Congress with an effective means of ensuring that the FCC is constantly aware that it is an ‘arm of Congress’” (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 121). While committees and subcommittees that directly handle telecommunications policy generally initiate oversight, other committees with different expertise are not prevented from doing the same. For instance, the Senate Select Committee on Alcoholism and Narcotics has, in the past, examined the depiction of alcohol consumption on television. The Senate Agriculture Committee has also been known to
hold hearings regarding rural telecommunications (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 115). The FCC is never independent of Congress and its many committee hearings or studies. Oversight and pressure from Congress may not always come from committees as a whole but rather from individual members of Congress and its staff. Individual members may submit personal comments to the Commission for proposed rules. These filings receive “substantial attention” but the FCC “does not always do exactly what they want” (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 119). Staff members of Senate and House committees make an effort to maintain a strong rapport with the FCC and continually share committee members’ views and expectations of the Commission. These individuals play a crucial role “in shaping the body of laws and in overseeing the activities of regulatory agencies” (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 117). The communication between Congress and the FCC is so important and continual that there is an entire office within the FCC that is dedicated entirely to maintaining contact with the government (Smith, et al., 1995, 75; Federal Communications Commission, 2002, 6). FCC chairmen are also no strangers to Congress. Former Chairman Newton Minow claimed he “heard from Congress about as frequently as television commercials flash across the screen” (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 87). Perhaps one of the most powerful ways in which Congress can control the FCC is through legislation, a strategy that is applied infrequently. Congress has the ability to add amendments or statues to the Communications Act of 1934, altering the instructions for the Commission regarding its operations and the rules and regulations it must enforce (Smith, et al., 1995, 101). Legislation outlining “equal opportunity,” “equal treatment” and “reasonable access” for federal candidates to broadcast stations during election time is an example of how Congress can ensure their own personal interests within the media and further control the FCC (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 92). Defining “public interest, convenience and necessity” is another example of unclear orders the FCC has been charged with following. These vague instructions reflect Congress’ lack of desire and expertise to tackle a “complex and continuing problem of regulating an emerging technology” yet it opens the door for congressional influence (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 91). Contrasting this strategy is inaction. Issues too controversial for Congress result in its inability to conceive legislation. This indecisiveness, however, doesn’t keep Congress from criticizing or opposing the Commission when senators and representatives disagree
with a decision it has made (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 120). Krasnow, et al., asserts “one of the toughest tasks of the FCC then, is to make crucial decisions when the wishes of Congress are quite unclear, but its presence is very real” (1982, 120). A fourth strategy that provides Congress the power to control the Commission is through annual appropriations legislation. Guidelines may accompany these funds explaining how the money may or may not be used (Smith, et al., 1995, 102). “This has often been a source of tension between authorizing committees and special interest groups” (Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 2008, 22). The Appropriates Committees issues these reports, which are not law but are considered just as equally important (Krasnow, et al., 1982, 98). This power Congress has over the FCC was demonstrated in 1988 when legislation was passed to block any effort on the Commission’s part to grant Murdoch a waiver extension (Federal Communications Commission, 1988; News America v. FCC, 1988). A Closer look at the Federal Communication Commission The Federal Communications Commission is made up of five levels of personnel. Below the commissioners are ten offices and seven bureaus that are each responsible for carrying on the business delegated by the commissioners. The Commission is in charge of appointing individuals to serve as staff members of these offices and bureaus to assist in carrying out the functions of the FCC. The Commission has the power to organize the FCC as they see fit (Smith, et al., 1995, 70). The Communications Act recommends the Commission hire “inspectors, examiners, and engineering, accounting, legal, administrative and clerical personnel,” while simultaneously stating, “the FCC may hire other employees as necessary” (Smith, et al., 1995, 70). Unlike commissioners, most staff personnel have permanent positions. Separating the commissioners from these offices and bureaus is the Office of Inspector General, which “conducts and supervises audits and investigations relating to FCC programs and operations” (Federal Communications Commission, 2002, 6). Below this particular office are two tiers of other offices and bureaus (See Appendix B; “About the FCC,” 2009). Each office and bureau is in charge of relatively specific duties. The departments that are specifically in charge of monitoring and enforcing the rules, such as ownership rules, are the Media Bureau, which oversees policy and licensing, and the Enforcement
Bureau, which enforces the Communications Act, the Commission’s rules, orders and authorizations (Federal Communications Commission, 2002, 5). Also of significance is the Office of Legislative Affairs, created in 1987 by Congress (Smith, et al., 1995, 75), where staff members serve as the “liaison between the FCC and Congress, [and] other federal, state and local governments” (Federal Communications Commission, 2002, 6). One of the most important functions of the FCC is to issue broadcast licenses. A broadcaster must seek the approval of the Commission to operate a station, move locations of the station, change its call letters, transfer ownership, etc. (Pember & Calvert, 2008, 591). There are specific qualifications or characteristics the FCC looks for in an applicant when deciding on whether to issue or renew a license. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, have sufficient funds to build and operate a station for at least three months without earning any revenue, possess or be able to hire people with the necessary skills to operate a station, be honest and open with Commission, and have good character (Pember & Calvert, 2008, 591). These qualifications for broadcast licensee applicants are applied when Murdoch seeks waivers of the broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership rule. Cross-Ownership Rules Suggestions for rulemaking may be initiated from within or outside the Commission. The appropriate office or bureau first reviews the suggestions and those that survive scrutiny are forwarded to the Commission (Smith, et al., 1995, 57). Throughout this complicated and long-term process, the FCC issues a range of public announcements and dockets previewing its decisions (See Appendix C; Federal Communications Commission, 2002, 13-14; Smith, et al., 1995, 59). Through this process, new FCC administrative laws are created. On March 25, 1970, the FCC issued its First Report and Order on Multiple Ownership adjusting the common ownership rules of radio and television broadcast stations, or duopoly rule (Federal Communications Commission, 1970). The same day, it proposed a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for divestiture requirements over a period of time and newspaper ownership (Federal Communications Commission, 1970, par. 23, 68). It was not until January of 1975, after reviewing additional comments from the public and media industry regarding the proposed rule changes that the FCC adopted an amendment to Section 73.3555(c) of the Commission’s Rules and Regulations
establishing the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban effective the following month (Federal Communications Commission, 1975). The cross-ownership ban prohibited common ownership of a daily newspaper and broadcast station in the same community, except in “egregious cases” (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 16). The new rule did not apply to commonly owned broadcast and print media entities that were in different markets or to print media outlets that were not daily newspapers such as weekly newspapers, magazines, collegiate papers or specialized publications, including foreign language dailies (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 20, 101). The Commission reasoned that the audience and circulation of non-daily print media accounted for a small fraction of the market when compared to daily newspapers. Companies that violated the rule were forced to divest, a departure from precedent that resulted in lengthy consideration of the FCC’s authority for such an order (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 5).1 Any entity that violated the rule at the time it was adopted had until January 1, 1980, approximately five years, to comply with the rule (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 117). Beginning February 12, 1975, all future purchases within the media industry were affected. Broadcast station licensees that purchased one or more daily newspapers in the same market would be required to “dispose of its stations within 1 year or by the time of its next renewal date, whichever is longer” (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 103). Newspaper owners, likewise, were barred from acquiring a broadcast station within the same market area (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 103). The Commission argued that diversity in programming service and preserving competition were the underlying reasons for the adoption of these amendments and thus diversity could not be realistic in a community where a broadcast/newspaper ownership combination existed (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 111). Waivers The FCC has always had the power and discretion to issue suspensions, amendments or waivers of its rules as provided by Congress in Section 1.3 of the
1 The economic consequences of a ban and subsequent divestitures, the impact of jointly owned properties on the public and market, and the lack of similarities in business operations of broadcast and print media were a few of the topics that were considered at length by the Commission prior to its final decision.
Commission’s Rules (“Suspension,” 2007). These are significant ordinances since they effectively excuse an entity from having to abide by the rules. The Second Report and Order on Multiple Ownership outlined the criteria by which any waiver of the rules request would be considered. It was conceived that in some instances divestiture of properties would not serve the public interest and could potentially be waived. A waiver would be considered upon request if an owner were incapable of selling a property or if the sale were only possible at an “artificially depressed price” (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 119). The Commission provided that if the separate ownership and operation of both properties in the same locality could not be supported, it would consider a waiver of the rules. The fourth and final condition declared if owners could show the public would be better served by common ownership of both properties, a waiver would be warranted (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 119). The Commission applied these criteria in deciding whether to grant News Corporation a temporary/permanent waiver or waiver extensions for a television station and the New York Post in the same community. As noted in Chapter One, the Code of Federal Regulations stipulates that regulatory agencies are required to hold a hearing before a waiver of the rules is denied or granted. In 1975, the Commission said it would consider holding hearings only if substantial issues regarding the request needed to be resolved so as not to delay or cause unnecessary burdens to the parties involved, or unless it were mandated by Congress (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 121; Smith, et al., 1995, 57). With the adoption of these new rules, the FCC determined a hearing was unnecessary in order to issue two temporary cross-ownership waivers. In Hickory, North Carolina, a daily newspaper and television station combination were given waivers of the rules since the station had no network affiliation, a small audience, and no interested buyers. In Brookfield, Missouri, a daily newspaper and radio station combination were waived when the community was not found to be on “equal footing” with those with radio stations slated for divestiture nationwide (Federal Communications Commission, 1975, par. 120). The power Congress and the Commission have in determining the rules and regulations by which the U.S. media industry must abide is perhaps nothing more than a
tug-of-war to develop standards that will best protect the public interest. The reviews and adjustments to rules that occur on a regular basis keep media companies attentive to concerns in the nation’s capital. The ability of Congress to overrule the Commission and the judicial system’s authority to decide which agency’s policies and actions are constitutional and sound are all reasons why Rupert Murdoch hasn’t always received the waivers he has requested. Murdoch Granted Waiver for Post News Corporation first purchased the New York Post on December 30, 1976 (Wolff, 2008, 153). As Murdoch set his sights on other media outlets, his expanding company needed special permission from the Federal Communications Commission to purchase and maintain ownership of certain entities since some of the property combinations violated the ownership rules. On July 24, 1985, Rupert Murdoch filed with the FCC an application for a temporary newspaper/television cross-ownership waiver for the New York Post and WNEW-TV in New York. The waiver application was filed as a result of a purchase by a News Corporation subsidiary, News America Television Incorporated, of Metromedia Radio & Television, Inc. (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 2). This acquisition not only impacted New York but also the Chicago market, since Murdoch at the time also owned The Chicago Sun-Times and recently had acquired WFLD-TV in Chicago, which also violated the cross-ownership rules. However, for the purpose of this study, this chapter will only focus on the New York market and related waiver requests. Murdoch sought the waiver to have more time to sell off properties and achieve compliance with the FCC’s rules. News Corp. requested a two-year extension on is obligations to divest. The company acknowledged at the time of the request that while a search for prospective buyers for the newspaper had begun, extra time was needed because of the difficulty in selling print media (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 3). Upon the Commission’s acceptance of the filing on July 5, 1985, multiple petitioners filed complaints objecting to the request. The joint petitions to deny filed by the National Coalition on Television Violence (NCTV), Media Access Project (MAP), Washington Association for Television and Children (WATCH), and Metrowest
Corporation were primarily concerned with Murdoch’s acquisition of the Metromedia stations. The petitioners raised five concerns. First, they argued Murdoch was not a U.S. citizen at the time of the application’s filing and thus it should have not been accepted (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 7). In defense of Murdoch’s citizenship status, News America stated that the CEO would make a change in his citizenship before the Commission would act on the application. Prior to the Commission’s acceptance of the filing, Murdoch had applied to the Immigration and Naturalization Service to become a U.S. citizen. The FCC acknowledged that given the company’s officers and directors were all U.S. citizens, it was anticipated in the next several months that Murdoch likewise would attain this status before the license transfers were finalized. Furthermore, the Commission believed that while Section 310(b) of the Communications Act states that no broadcast license would be granted to any alien, “the section does not prohibit the filing of any application by an alien who is in the process of becoming a United States citizen” (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 11). Murdoch did become a U.S. citizen on September 4, 1985; therefore, the Commissioners determined the applications were properly filed and accepted. The petitioners also asserted that Murdoch had not been open with the Commission regarding potential changes to programming, content, and format of the stations he sought to buy and for these reasons the request should not be granted (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 13). Moreover, based on studies of three of Murdoch’s newspapers in the U.S. (The Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Post and San Antonio News) and television programming in Australia and Europe, the public interest organizations were concerned that an increase in violent entertainment content and a reduction in children’s content would result if the waiver were granted (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 13). The commissioners found that Murdoch was not demonstrating a “lack of candor,” or would ignore the needs and interests of the communities in which his entities served, or fail to comply the agency’s rules concerning programming. The commissioners explained there are no requirements of an applicant to explain in detail proposed entertainment programming and found the petitioner’s conclusions concerning
Murdoch’s operations of papers in the U.S. and programming overseas to be irrelevant. No further review of the matters was made due to the petitioner’s inability to meet the burden of proof that a granting of a temporary waiver would be inconsistent with the public interest. More importantly, the commissioners reiterated that a licensee has editorial control of content and programming and that “broadcasting is also a medium entitled to First Amendment protection” (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 16). A fourth appeal set forth by the petitioners concerned News America’s supposed lack of sufficient funds to acquire the stations (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 30). It was determined that News America did have necessary funds, including access to other sources of capital, to buy and operate the stations for three months, a minimal qualification required by the FCC for licensees (Pember & Calvert, 2008, 591). The Commission felt the petitioners had not made a case to warrant denying the waiver and since News America had presented the necessary “reasonable assurance” regarding its financial qualifications, no further inquiry was deemed necessary. Addressing the prohibition on common ownership of a daily newspaper and a television station in the same community as outlined in Section 73.3555(c)(3) of the Commission’s Rules, the petitioners called for a designated hearing of the matter since they found there had been no demonstration that the newspaper in question was insecure and would warrant a waiver. Additionally, the petitioners disapproved of the two-year period for the waiver and found it to be excessive (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 20). News America argued that it should not be treated any differently than a broadcast licensee that acquires a newspaper. According to the FCC’s rules, a broadcast licensee would be required to sell the station within one year of purchasing the paper or by the next broadcast license renewal date, whichever is longer. News America maintained that while there appeared to be an automatic temporary waiver when a broadcast licensee acquires a newspaper, newspaper owners who acquire broadcast stations should not be treated any differently (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 21). News America assured the Commission that a two-year waiver would allow the company a reasonable amount of time to sell the paper and would reduce the
likelihood that the Post would be sold to competitors (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 24, 25). The company also contended the granting of the requested waiver would potentially result in short-term reduction of diversity in media, but would in no way intermingle the operations of the daily newspaper and television station during the waiver period (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 27). In conclusion, the petitions by NCTV, MAP, WATCH and Metrowest “failed to raise any substantial and material questions of fact to establish that a grant of these applications would be inconsistent with the public interest” and a hearing was found to be unnecessary (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 33). On November 27, 1985, Chairman Mark Fowler (R) and Commissioners Mimi Weyforth Dawson (R), Dennis Patrick (R) and James Quello (D) unanimously granted a 24-month temporary waiver to News America. It was concluded that no undue concentration of media would result from granting this waiver and the duration of the waiver would provide News America with enough time to find a buyer of the Post. The FCC explained that the extended period of time to sell would give potential minority and local buyers more time to arrange for the funds and possibly buy the entity, thus encouraging ownership diversity in the media (Federal Communications Commission, 1985, par. 28). Chairman Fowler wrote a concurring statement, stating the Commission’s decision had been “entirely consistent and logical” (Federal Communications Commission, 1985). 2 He explained that the rules were aimed at achieving diversity and the waiver met those aims. Fowler reiterated his co-commissioners’ concerns over forcing a quick sale of the newspaper, which would more than likely result in attracting only buyers with “deep pockets and ready cash,” an action that would not encourage diversity (Federal Communications Commission, 1985). Fowler remarked that while a permanent waiver was being sought by Cap Cities at the time News America’s request was being reviewed, Cap Cities’ request did not attract opposition as News America’s application for a temporary waiver had. He surmised the keen interest was because of Rupert Murdoch’s reputation and philosophy as a media owner. Fowler warned:
2 While the majority opinion of all FCC decisions and court cases are most relevant for this study, a summary of all concurring and dissenting opinions will also be briefly summarized to contribute to the overall understanding of the various positions of media policy players involved.
No matter how cleverly cloaked, a public official’s distaste for the content of an applicant’s speech must never be used to prevent the grant of a license if that applicant is qualified. It’s precisely that type of misuse of government processes that the First Amendment was intended to prevent. With some bumps, detours, and delays in these cases, the First Amendment has won out. (Federal Communications Commission, 1985) The granting of this temporary waiver was considered a win for the First Amendment in the eyes of the Commission; however, it would not be extended upon its expiration two years later. Congress Forces Murdoch to Sell A few months before News America Publishing Incorporated’s (formerly News America Television Incorporated) temporary cross-ownership waiver for the New York Post and WNYW-TV (formerly WNEW-TV; changed after Murdoch’s acquisition of Metromedia in 1985) was to expire on March 6, 1988, Congress drafted and passed a Continuing Resolution, signed by President Ronald Reagan, outlining the funds for federal government agencies for fiscal year 1988. Attached to the appropriations, under “Federal Communications Commission Salaries and Expenses,” was a resolution prohibiting the FCC from using the “funds appropriated by this Act or any other Act” to repeal or change the common ownership laws regarding a daily newspaper and a television station in the same market (Federal Communications Commission, 1988, par. 2). The law also forbade the FCC from extending any temporary waivers media owners had been granted in the past to become compliant with the rules. On January 19, 1988, FCC Chairman Dennis R. Patrick (R), Commissioner Patrick Diaz Dennis (D), and Commissioner James H. Quello (D) denied News America’s request for a waiver extension claiming their hands were tied due to the legislation (Federal Communications Commission, 1988, par. 5). News America claimed the statue violated the U.S. Constitution, but the FCC was incapable of legally granting the waiver extensions. As a result of the request’s rejection, Murdoch sold the New York Post on March 7, 1988. News America petitioned the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for expedited judicial review regarding Congress’ resolution and a freeze on the FCC’s decision. The
court granted both motions, staying the FCC’s decision until 45 days after the court’s decision in the appeal case. Since News America sold the Post, its claims for the cross- ownership waiver in New York were rendered moot; however, its constitutional challenge regarding the provision was not moot (News America v. FCC, 1988).3 Several interveners in the case included the Committee for Media Diversity, CBS, Inc., and Wilbert A. Tatum. Both the Speaker and Bipartisan Leadership Group of the U.S. House of Representatives filed amicus curiae briefs urging affirmation of the legislation. The American Newspaper Publishers Association, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed amicus curiae briefs on behalf of News America. The interveners, not the FCC, challenged the clause because it was believed to have affected other publishers and broadcasters besides Murdoch. They argued the Supreme Court had provided “Congress greater latitude in broadcast regulation than it or any state legislature would enjoy in the regulation of printed (or other non-broadcast) speech,” and therefore the Commission was overstepping its boundaries (News America v. FCC, 1988). The court disagreed and found the Amendment to target only Murdoch. The court arrived at this decision from paying particular attention to the last 18 words of the Hollings Amendment: “… or to extend the time period of current grants to temporary waivers to achieve compliance with such rules” (News America v. FCC, 1988). The judges turned to the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary for clarification on the definition of certain words in the Amendment. “Current” was found to refer only to waivers in effect as of December 22, 1987 when the bill was passed. At that time News America was the only entity with an outstanding waiver. The judges’ deemed “current grants” could not pertain to those that would be issued during the fiscal year 1988. They explained that they could not read “current” to really mean “current and future” as Senator Hollings had asserted on the Senate floor (News America v. FCC, 1988). While courts typically give little consideration to post-enactment statements, “the full text of the post-enactment Senate discussion” confirmed for the judges “that the
3 The provision concerning the FCC’s appropriated funds was sponsored by Senator Ernest Hollings (D- SC), which is known as and will be referred to as the Hollings Amendment.
Hollings Amendment was directed solely at Rupert Murdoch and his media holdings” (News America v. FCC, 1988). News America encouraged the court to review Supreme Court cases and apply standards handed down from the justices to assess the Hollings Amendment. This included Arkansas Writers’ Project v. Ragland (1987) where the high court ruled “a tax that singles out the press, or that targets individual publications within the press, places a heavy burden on the State to justify its action” (News America v. FCC, 1988). The Commission on the other hand denied that such a case was applicable to this specific situation since the “broadcast media do not enjoy First Amendment protection identical with the print media,” an argument the judges agreed with (News America v. FCC, 1988). The court reviewed appellate and Supreme Court cases pertaining to other restrictions that have been enforced on broadcasters via the Commission or federal government. The judges were unable to identify a precedent that directly related to the issue at hand and determined that heavy scrutiny/rationality should be given to the issue at hand. A 2-1 ruling, in favor of News America, was handed down on March 29, 1988. Judges Stephen Williams and Laurence Silberman concluded the Amendment was “under inclusive” for the purpose it was believed to serve the Commission. The FCC defended the legislation and maintained that Congress could have believed … that a general prohibition against the extension of temporary waivers is a rational means of ensuring that an applicant for a temporary waiver does not achieve through a successive series of waivers what amounts, in effect, to a permanent waiver. (News America v. FCC, 1988) The judges dismissed this claim and clarified the Amendment referred only to extensions of temporary waivers, not the granting of temporary waivers, nor did it limit the duration of such waiver extensions. The court also asserted that Murdoch was indeed seeking an extension of a temporary waiver, not a permanent waiver. Based on the court’s interpretation of the legislation, it could not keep Murdoch or any other media owner from seeking temporary waivers for other properties. The court also noted that the restriction was imposed only on newspaper-television rules, not newspaper-radio rules. Three outstanding temporary waivers for the newspaper-radio cross-ownership rules were
pending extension at the time of the proceedings (News America v. FCC, 1988). Judge Williams wrote that, regardless of Congress’s motive to pass such legislation, its actions were potentially abusing the First Amendment. Dissenting from the majority vote was Judge Spottswood Robinson. He argued that the judgment should have focused on whether Congress’ action was constitutional and not whether they could have done better. He explained in his decision that the cross- ownership rule was intended to promote diversity. At the close of 1987, he contended Congress had documented that the interest in preserving the cross-ownership rules was being threatened since a petition for eliminating the rule was pending at the Commission. Moreover Congress cited evidence the FCC no longer supported the rule. Robinson believed the Amendment sought to preserve a rule that was being threatened. He further explained that the appropriations bill’s blocking of News America did not constitute a content-based restriction, and argued there was no evidence Congress was trying to censor Murdoch in any way (News America v. FCC, 1988). In conclusion, the court vacated the Commission’s decision to not extend the waiver and remanded it to the FCC to consider News America’s petition for a waiver extension for the newspaper-television combination in the Boston community in light of the “standards and principle” applied in the case (News America v. FCC, 1988). Williams made clear that the court was not expressing “any opinion as to whether News America is entitled to an extension of its remaining waiver,” but declared the Resolution was no longer a roadblock for News America or the FCC (News America v. FCC, 1988). Had Murdoch not sold the Post prior to the ruling, it too likely would have been able to be reconsidered for a waiver extension. Until 1993, The New York Post remained under the supervision of its new owner, real estate developer Peter Kalikow. Murdoch Repurchases the Post Following the sale of the New York Post to Kalikow, the paper became unstable. Kalikow was unable to sustain the paper’s operations through his real estate holdings and filed for personal bankruptcy in August of 1991 (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 3). The Post’s circulation dropped, the editorial staff was depleted and certain employees were replaced, causing advertisers to grow reluctant to purchase ad space and forcing some advertisers to abandon the paper altogether (Federal Communications
Commission, 1993a, par. 11). Revenues declined, leaving employee pension, welfare, and 401K deductions going unpaid while the paper accumulated a $3 million debt in outstanding taxes. As a result, Kalikow began an unsuccessful search for a new owner for the newspaper. Those that did show a strong interest offered too little money or were not in a position to take on the responsibilities as an owner, according to the bankruptcy court. One prospective buyer was real estate developer Abraham Hirschfeld. The bankruptcy court granted Hirschfeld “operational control of the Post” based on his pledge to invest a minimum of $3 million into the newspaper. Reorganizations and firing of the paper’s editor-in-chief, editors, and columnists resulted in an editorial staff “revolt” against its new manager. Consequently, Hirschfeld was unable to complete the sale. On March 15, 1993, the New York Post Co. filed for bankruptcy (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 11). Several parties approached Rupert Murdoch about repurchasing the Post, including then New York Governor Mario Cuomo and a New York U.S. senator (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 12). According to the 1988 purchase and sale agreement between Kalikow and Murdoch, News America remained a creditor to the paper. Under the agreement, “News America [would be] granted a right of first refusal to purchase the newspaper in the event Kalikow proposed to dispose of it” (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 4). Murdoch agreed to reassume leadership of the paper only if he were able to obtain a permanent cross-ownership waiver from the FCC. Ten parties submitted comments to the FCC regarding this pending waiver decision including Caucus for Media Diversity, New York Amsterdam News, National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, Champion Holding Company, and the Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People. Questions regarding the FCC’s authority to “consider the financial situation of a daily newspaper” while its jurisdiction was “limited to matters relating to communication by wire and radio” were raised (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 18). The commissioners stated it was their responsibility to consider only Murdoch’s eligibility to receive a permanent waiver for the Post and whether such action would be in the public interest, all while considering the needs of the bankruptcy court to proceed with the disposition of the
paper. The Commission assured concerned citizens that while it had the authority to limit a broadcast licensee’s ownership of a newspaper, it also had the authority to waive such a restriction in the public interest. In defense of its application, Fox asserted that a permanent waiver was necessary in order for advertisers and readers to return to the paper. The company claimed a long- term owner would assure these parties of the newspaper’s viability. In addition, Murdoch’s counsel argued that there were no other viable purchasers, other than Murdoch, who “demonstrated a willingness to undertake the financial burden of stabilizing and revitalizing the Post” (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 22). Fox also raised the concern that if the waiver were not granted, diversity would be affected because the community would lose a competitive voice and source of viewpoint in the market. The applicants assured the Commission that Murdoch’s joint ownership of the Post and WNYW-TV would not result in concentration of media control, declaring the properties would remain separate. Groups concerned with the application, particularly the NAACP, claimed granting a permanent waiver would depart from Commission precedent. Some worried “further expansion of Murdoch’s media holdings would be inconsistent with the Commission goal of promoting diversity” (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 33). Public interest groups and individuals urged the Commission to hold a hearing to address their concerns, including misrepresentations of material fact in the application and Murdoch’s history of support for racist and inflammatory journalism. The first claim of misrepresentation concerned the date when Fox claimed the interim management agreement with Kalikow expired. Fox urged an expeditious action by June 1, 1993, when in fact it did have the power to extend this date to July 1st if a permanent waiver had not yet been granted. The Commission assured petitioners that it was made aware of the possible extension but agreed that a decision made sooner than later would be best (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 68). Second, petitioners claimed News Corp. misrepresented itself as the only potential buyer for the Post. While other individuals had shown interest, they were not approved or deemed viable by the bankruptcy court; thus, Fox had not lied according to the Commission (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 70).
In addition, the content carried by Murdoch’s media outlets was beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission and was not a criterion on which the FCC could base its decision (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 54). In light of the petitioners’ failure to raise “substantial and material question of fact” an evidentiary hearing was not warranted and the permanent waiver was granted because of the viability risk to the newspaper. The Commission concluded its decision was appropriate and satisfied the needs of communications-related policies and bankruptcy-related policies (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 42, 56). Applying the four standards by which waivers for the cross-ownership rule can be granted, the Commission decided to apply the fourth criteria to this case: “for whatever reason, the purposes of the rule would be disserved by divestiture” (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 38). In a 2-1 ruling, Chairman James Quello (D) and Commissioner Ervin Duggan (D) voted to waive the cross-ownership rule for News America on July 9, 1993. The commissioners explained the future of the newspaper was in doubt if Murdoch were not granted a permanent waiver to own the entity. The shortage of potential buyers for the suffering newspaper weighed heavily on the commissioners’ decision that Murdoch’s ownership of the paper could be pivotal in its survival. For this reason, Quello and Duggan argued that a permanent waiver, rather than a temporary one, was justified: not only would Murdoch decline to buy the paper if a temporary waiver were issued but the necessary actions to revitalize the paper would not be achieved with a temporary waiver. In his concurring statement, Chairman Quello addressed his concerns regarding petitioners’ claims that diversity could better be served, particularly in the Africa- American community, if the Post failed. Others supported the Post’s death because of the possibility that another voice would rise up and fill the void left by the newspaper. Quello wrote, “as the Supreme Court has made clear, ‘the concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment’” (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a). In his separate concurring statement, Commissioner Duggan recognized that only once in the past had the Commission considered and then denied a request for a
permanent waiver of the cross-ownership rule. Upon the denial, the Washington Star newspaper in Washington, D.C. failed. Duggan wrote that the silence of the Star was not a victory for media diversity. “A different decision here, in my judgment, offers the greatest hope of saving a troubled newspaper and broadening the range of editorial voices in New York” (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a). Dissenting from the decision was Commissioner Andrew Barrett (R), who believed the Commission should have considered a temporary waiver only after the bankruptcy court had made a decision declaring a new owner of the Post. Barrett believed the permanent waiver was not necessary and a result of a defective “process, policy and law” (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a). He further explained that the declaratory ruling was improper and should not be used to grant “first” permanent waivers of the cross-ownership rule, creating a new broadcast-newspaper combination. He also disagreed with Quello and Duggan regarding whether Fox had provided enough sufficient evidence to support the notion that it was the only viable buyer of the Post. In his opinion, since the Post had not been profitable for years, there was no harm in requiring the paper to be sold to bidders who would not require a waiver or allow the market forces determine the entity’s future. He contended that there was no harm in diversity if the Post did fail because of the dozens of other newspapers in the market (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a). This granting of a permanent waiver of the television-newspaper ownership rule marked the second time in the FCC’s history that such a waiver was granted. The only other time was in 1979 when Field Communications Corporation, licensee and publisher of two Chicago daily newspapers, received control of five television stations, including one in the Chicago market, from Kaiser Broadcasting Corporation. Petition for Reconsideration The Caucus for Media Diversity, one of the parties that filed comments regarding the FCC’s decision to grant a permanent waiver to News Corp in July of 1993, filed with the Commission a Petition for Reconsideration of its decision. The Caucus asserted that the Commission “did not provide a reasoned basis for concluding the Caucus’ allegations raised no substantial and material question of fact” (Federal Communications Commission, 1993b, par. 9). In a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Barrett dissenting a
second time, the Commission denied the Caucus’ request for reconsideration asserting that it would not debate “matters on which the Commission has already deliberated and spoken” (Federal Communications Commission, 1993b, par. 10). The FCC’s decision in granting a permanent waiver for the cross-ownership rule was appealed a second time to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Five parties, including the Metropolitan Council of NAACP Branches, Robert Flynn, Hilda Rogers, Amnews Inc., and Wilbert A. Tatum, petitioned the Commission’s decision. The appellants proclaimed the Commission “arbitrarily and capriciously departed from precedent by denying a hearing on the alleged misrepresentation by Fox about the existence of other potential purchasers” (Metropolitan Council of NAACP Branches, et al. v. FCC, et al., 1995). The appellants also argued a permanent waiver violated the cross-ownership rule and Congress’ direction to not use federal funds to repeal or re- examine the rule. The court did not agree with the assertions and found the allegations to not be supported by any evidence. Since the FCC approved the application for a permanent waiver, the petitioners requested that 2 of the 3 Commissioners recuse themselves from the proceedings. Chairman Quello and Commissioner Duggan found no reason to withdraw, and neither did the judges.4 The appellants referenced various news articles for the reasoning behind this call for recusal. The judges debated whether news articles were admissible as evidence and if the Department of Justice would consider them “hearsay,” which is defined as being “a statement, other than one made by the defendant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted” (Metropolitan Council of NAACP Branches, et al. v. FCC, et al., 1995). Regardless, the court reviewed the articles. An article from the New York Times stated that “officials who once opposed a waiver say they will support one now to save the Post” (Metropolitan Council of NAACP Branches, et al. v. FCC, et al., 1995). The judges clarified that even though elected officials, such as the New York governor and senators, supported the waiver, that did not mean the commissioners did too. A piece from Broadcasting and Cable magazine quoted
4 The appellate court case docket is the only document to go into detail regarding the petitioner’s request for recusal.
Chairman Quello as saying “he ‘would have no objections to a waiver request’” (Metropolitan Council of NAACP Branches, et al. v. FCC, et al., 1995). Quello explained to the court “his lack of objection was to the filing of a request, not to whether or not the request would be granted” (Metropolitan Council of NAACP Branches, et al. v. FCC, et al., 1995). In conclusion, the courts found the four articles to not supply any evidence or reason for the commissioners to recuse themselves from the issue. On January 27, 1995, a unanimous court affirmed the FCC’s decision. Circuit Judges David B. Sentelle, A. Raymond Randolph, and Judith W. Rogers found the FCC’s “detailed decision” to not be arbitrary or capricious (Metropolitan Council of NAACP Branches, et al. v. FCC, et al., 1995). The Chris-Craft Merger A News Corp. subsidiary’s (Fox Television Stations, Inc.) merger with Chris- Craft Industries once again necessitated a request for a waiver of the rules in 2001. Upon the completion of the merger, Rupert Murdoch would be the owner of 10 additional television stations nationwide, resulting in multiple duopolies and combinations that would exceed the national ownership cap and common ownership rules. Fox sought only two waivers from the FCC from rules it was violating as a result of the merger, believing its permanent waiver for the cross-ownership rule granted in 1993 encompassed the new television property in New York. On July 25, 2001, the FCC approved the merger and issued Fox three waivers. The vote was split 3-2 along party lines: Chairman Michael K. Powell (R) and Commissioners Kathleen Q. Abernathy (R), and Kevin J. Martin (R) supported it and Commissioners Gloria Tristani (D) and Michael J. Copps (D) dissented from the majority’s decision (Federal Communications Commission, 2001, par. 1). The first waiver concerned national television audience limits. The merger resulted in Fox’s exceeding the national audience cap of 35%. News Corp. sought a waiver for more time from the FCC to comply with the rules. The commissioners granted its request for a 12-month temporary waiver. The second waiver concerned duopolies. After the merger, Fox would have four duopolies nationwide. At the time, the FCC allowed common ownership of two TV stations in the same market as long as there were eight independently owned commercial and noncommercial stations in the market after the merger (Federal Communications Commission, 2001, par. 26). The duopolies in the
Phoenix, New York and Los Angeles markets were in compliance with the FCC’s rules; however, the duopoly in Salt Lake City was not. Fox’s request for a 12-month temporary waiver for the Salt Lake City market was not approved; instead the Commission granted Fox a 6-month temporary waiver because the “duopoly would result in excessive market concentration” (Federal Communications Commission, 2001, par. 27). The third waiver granted is of most interest to this study. At the time of the merger, Murdoch owned WNYW-TV and The New York Post in New York. The company acquired a second television station, WWOR-TV, in New York because of the merger. Fox contended that its permanent waiver of the cross-ownership rule and the Commission’s duopoly rule permitted the company to own all three entities without needing an additional waiver (Federal Communications Commission, 2001, par. 34). Fox argued if the cross-ownership rule were to be revised or abolished in the near future, it should be granted an interim waiver. If the waiver were not granted, it would result in unstable relationships with its “subscribers, advertisers and unions that could further undermine the financial viability of the Post” (Federal Communications Commission, 2001, par. 34). Petitioners including the Office of Communication, Inc. of the United Church of Christ, Academy of Latino Leaders in Action, Black Citizens for a Fair Media, Center for Media Education, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer’s Union, New York Metropolitan Association of the United Church of Christ, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and Valley Community Access Television requested that the FCC refuse this rationale and deny the two waiver requests. The petitioners argued Fox had “failed to demonstrate that its existing waiver automatically encompasses the second New York station [WWOR] that it seeks to retain or that an interim waiver would serve the public interest” Federal Communications Commission, 2001, par. 34). The commissioners determined the permanent waiver did not consider additional television stations in the same market and agreed with the petitioners that the particular waiver was not adequate to allow the current combination to continue (Federal Communications Commission, 2001, par. 40). The Commission did not grant Fox the interim waiver it requested, but rather issued a 24-month temporary cross-ownership waiver, one that was never requested by Fox. The commissioners reasoned that the
newspaper’s non-dominant position in the New York market and its history of significant financial difficulties warranted granting Fox a temporary waiver to come into compliance with the rule. “We note that grant of a 24-month temporary waiver here is consistent with our treatment of the television/newspaper combination created when Mr. Murdoch originally acquired WNYW (TV)” (Federal Communications Commission, 2001, par. 45). In his concurring statement, Chairman Powell wrote that he strongly supported the waiver for the cross-ownership rule in New York because of the number of diverse voices that remained after the merger; including 19 independent television stations, more than 120 commercial and noncommercial radio stations, 25 daily newspapers, and hundreds of weekly papers (Federal Communications Commission, 2001). Commissioner Abernathy’s concurring statement argued the size and scope of the current marketplace required the Commission to be flexible in its awarding of temporary waivers of its rules to allow companies more time to comply with the rules after mergers and acquisitions (Federal Communications Commission, 2001). Commissioners Copps and Tristani both dissented. Commissioner Copps wrote that he could not “support the grant of an application that stretches the statutes, denies operative Commission rules and omits critically important consideration of the public interest” (Federal Communications Commission, 2001). Copps believed the issuing of three ownership waivers to one company at once was not based upon sound decision- making. Echoing his concerns, Commissioner Tristani expressed disappointment with the current Commission, which she believed would find a way to permit any business deal to go through despite any violation of the rules. She disagreed with how the majority approached the waivers. “In seeking a waiver of the newspaper-television cross- ownership ban for New York City, Fox put forth two rationales, both of which the Order rejects. But the majority then goes on to supply reasoning Fox never even proposed and grants the waiver!” (Federal Communications Commission, 2001). Beyond the decision-making concerns raised by Copps, Tristani also questioned the concentration of media ownership that was being permitted by the Commission. She also argued that a diverse media industry essential to democracy was not being preserved and promoted, thus further diminishing “the marketplace of ideas” (Federal
Communications Commission, 2001). She wrote the decision had eliminated “the requirement that merger applicants demonstrate to the FCC that their license transfer would serve the public interest” (Federal Communications Commission, 2001). A year after the Commission issued its decision, several petitioners, joined by the Media Access Project and the Georgetown University Law Center, appealed the FCC’s Order to the Court of Appeals. The court ruled the Commission had the discretion to determine if Fox should receive a 6, 12 or 24-month period waiver. Judges Harry T. Edwards, A. Raymond Randolph and David S. Tatel in a unanimous decision declared it would not “disturb the Commission’s determination that 24 months was an appropriate period, in absence of evidence as to why a shorter period would have achieved the same goals sought by the commission in granting the waiver” (Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, et al., v. FCC, 2002). The court rejected the petitioner’s claim the public interest was not being served and affirmed the Commission’s Order. Today, News Corporation still owns the New York Post and the two television stations in New York, WNWY and WWOR. The temporary waiver granted in 2001 expired in July of 2003. The Commission’s adjustment to the ownership rules in 2002 shifted the timeline for the waiver’s expiration and renewal. Pending the revision of the ownership changes as remanded by the court in Prometheus Radio Project, et al., v FCC (2004), Fox filed a petition to the Commission for modification of the permanent waiver for the Post and WNWY to include WWOR or at least extend the temporary waiver. The temporary waiver was extended. In 2006, the Commission reissued the permanent cross-ownership waiver for the Post and WNYW and granted Fox a 24-month temporary cross-ownership waiver for the Post and WWOR (Federal Communications Commission, 2006, par. 1). The applications for these waivers were unopposed by the public or any other parties. The Commission reasoned the waivers were justified since they preserved the viability of the newspaper in addition to preserving the diversity and competitiveness of the New York City market (Federal Communications Commission, 2006, par. 6). News Corp. has not yet divested itself of WWOR and it’s quite likely the company will remain its owner at least a little longer, since the FCC has yet to deny Murdoch’s request for extension of the 24-month temporary waiver for the Post and WWOR.
The FCC dockets regarding the renewals and extensions of these waivers are not reviewed in greater detail here since subsequent decisions are repetitious of the initial rationale concerning the Chris-Craft merger in 2001. Had the Commission reversed its precedent in 2001, such analysis would be warranted. In addition, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal news articles relating to the waiver renewals and extensions after 2001 are also not included in this study. This historical review of News Corporation’s cross-ownership waiver requests has provided context for the framing analysis. Recognizing the antecedent conditions of actions and final decisions made by the Federal Communications Commission, public interest groups, Congress, and the courts will further assist in a qualitative analysis of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal news articles. Understanding the process by which the waivers were granted or denied and the relationship between the FCC, Congress, and court will provide the foundation of the analysis, particularly in terms of what events were omitted in news reports and what positions were discussed more frequently. Entering the qualitative analysis knowing the Times is against big media and the FCC’s issuing of waivers and the Journal supports big media and waivers will assist in testing whether the papers frame the denials and grants of these waivers as positive or negative events, respectively.
CHAPTER THREE Understanding the Theory and Method In the previous chapter, the history of News Corporation’s applications for cross- ownership waivers and extensions were explained according to the Federal Communications Commission and court records. This chapter will explain how this information will be used in this study. In addition, the framing theory will be explored, particularly focusing on the history of framing, the purpose it serves researchers and issues in methods. The Framing Theory Framing theory emerged in the 1970s. Bateson (1972) is credited with originating the “framing” metaphor, while Goffman (1974) is recognized as introducing the framing approach in 1974 (Reese, 2001, 7). Framing has been assigned several working definitions over time in attempts to refine the concept. Entman has provided one of the common definitions of framing, which is also provided in Chapter One of this thesis: “To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communication, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described” (1993, 52). According to Reese, framing is both a process and a result that involves selection and salience (2001, 7). The concept of framing is unique because it is a broad topic that is applicable to various disciplines including journalism, communication, sociology, political science, anthropology and other fields (Reese, 2001). In this study, it is being used to further understand mediated communication, specifically print media. Framing is a useful concept “in understanding the media’s role in political life” and the media in general (Reese, 2001, 7; Moody, 2008, 20). It is of particular interest to the communication field since communication scholars recognize the ability of a text or media presentation to set the terms of an event, issue or debate without the audience realizing it (Tankard, 2001, 96). According to Entman, framing “offers a way to describe the power of a communicating text” and sheds light on “the precise way in which influence over a human consciousness is exerted by the transfer (or communication) of information from one location” (1993, 51).
Framing analysis can also be employed to test the validity of frames. An example of this is Gamson’s analysis of 37 peer group conversations involving 188 blue-collar workers to determine whether public opinion concerning certain events and issues (e.g., affirmative action, nuclear power, Arab-Israeli conflict and American industry troubles) paralleled the frames used by the media that portrayed these citizens as passive and ignorant of politics (1992). Using a different approach, Pan and Kosicki examined the frames used by policymakers and President Bill Clinton regarding health care reform, and found framing analysis useful in studying how political actors manipulate issues or events by skewing the flow of information and opinion to their advantage (2001, 36). The media, media professionals, and audiences use frames to help organize and make sense of an event or issue by defining problems, diagnosing causes, making moral judgments, and suggesting remedies (Reese, 2001, 7; Gamson & Modigliani, 1989, 3; Entman, 1993, 52). These four functions are found within the sentences of a text document. More than one function may be present within one sentence while other sentences may perform none of these functions (Entman, 1993, 52). These functions help classify the frame and further our understanding of what the frame was intended to do according to the presence and absence of information within. Similarly, D’Angelo has outlined four empirical goals for framing including identifying the frames, investigating the preconditions that produced the frames, examination of how frames activate and interact with an individual’s prior knowledge and examination of how frames shape public opinion and policy issues (2002, 873). This study is concerned with addressing D’Angelo’s first two goals: identifying the frames and investigating the preconditions that produced those frames. Analyzing news articles assisted the researcher in determining what frames were used to explain the cross-ownership waiver process to the public. The history of the waivers discussed in Chapter Two was evaluated and compared to the frames found within the documents to determine if an event that affected the status of the waiver request resulted in a change of frames in reporting. Frames can be found in four locations, including the communicator, text, receiver and culture. Communicators, such as the writer or sources, make conscious or unconscious decisions of what to say and how to organize this information (Entman, 1993, 52). Gitlin believes frames are unavoidable since they provide journalists with the
means “to process large amounts of information, to assign it to cognitive categories, and to package it for efficient relay to their audiences” (1980, 7). The journalists’ role is believed to be central in framing important events or issues since they have the ability to quote and paraphrase sources using language from other sources or inventing their own catchphrases to help qualify a topic (Gamson & Modigliani, 1989, 3). In her examination of the media’s frames involving racial profiling, Moody points out “reporters can add weight to a point of view by quoting official sources or marginalize certain points of view by relating a quote or point of view to a social deviant” (2008, 23). Similarly, Gitlin asserts that “simply by doing their jobs, journalists tend to serve the political and economic elite definitions of reality” (1980, 12). The selection of information is just one example of how frames within a text are affected. Frames within the text are “manifested by the presence or absence of certain keywords, stock phrases, stereotyped images, sources of information, and sentences that provide thematically reinforcing clusters of facts or judgments” (Entman, 1993, 52). The latter two locations of frames are of significance for studies that are aimed at understanding the impact frames have on the public’s consciousness. The receiver or audience of a message interacts with the frames within a text. This interaction between the receiver and the text is mingled with the receiver’s current knowledge of the topic and frames he or she may have been exposed to previously (Entman, 1993, 52; Reese, 2001, 9). As a result, the intentions of the communicator may or may not be reflected in the receiver’s thinking and conclusions because of this commingling. The fourth location for frames is culture. Culture is defined as being the source of stock frames that are commonly used and widely understood (Entman, 1993, 53). Frames that are associated with culturally familiar symbols can result in salience, a product of a receiver’s interaction with a text. However, the mere presence or high frequency of frames in a text does not guarantee influence in audience thinking. The communicator’s selection of information may also result in salience, since information may be “more noticeable, meaningful or memorable to audiences” (Entman, 1993, 53). This measure of salience is perhaps best examined when the receiver or culture are also included in the analysis. A noteworthy study conducted by Kahneman and Tversky (1984) tested the power of framing. By “selecting and highlighting some features of reality while omitting
others” they conducted a survey in which participants were asked to choose the best solution in life and death situations (Entman, 1993, 53). The options offered in the experiment were identical, however, one preventative plan was presented as saving one- third of the people at risk whereas the same plan was presented in a negative manner as killing two-thirds of the people at risk (Entman, 1993, 53). The researchers found that the option presented in a more positive manner was more favorable among participants than the same option that was presented in negative terms. This study demonstrates that “the frame determines whether most people notice and how they understand and remember a problem, as well as how they evaluate and choose to act upon it” (Entman, 1993, 54). Framing studies focus not only on what is included in a text, but also on information that is omitted. If a receiver possesses “little or incommensurable data about alternatives,” the omission of problems, explanations, evaluations, and recommendations in a text is critical to understanding the frame (Entman, 1993, 53). This study sets out to understand what information is included and excluded in newspaper reports and how the information that is incorporated in the text is presented by focusing on two locations, the communicator and the text. The latter two locations, audience and culture, are not examined in this study. The events that are under investigation occurred between 1985 and 2001; there is not enough recent activity to warrant a survey of the public’s opinion about News Corp.’s requests for cross-ownership media waivers in the New York community in order to test how the frames present in the news articles may or may not have had an impact on public opinion. Quantitative v. Qualitative Methods Qualitative and quantitative approaches both are used by scholars to research frames in various locations and to understand them further according to their theories and goals of research. There is no narrowly defined framing paradigm for communication scholars; rather, different theories and methods are used to help further develop a researcher’s understanding of this complex structure. Both the qualitative and quantitative methodologies have their benefits and drawbacks. Framing offers quantitative researchers the means to examine media hegemony or their power to influence the public opinion (Tankard, 2002, 96). Tankard asserts that one of the strengths of quantitative approaches is their ability to determine the reliability of
measurement, since the results of studies are replicable. In addition, the subjectivity of identifying the frames is eliminated from a quantitative study (Tankard, 2002, 104). Contrary to these benefits are potential problems with this approach. Quantification may result in a researcher yielding to the “reductionistic urge to sort media texts and discourse into containers and count their size or frequency” (Reese, 2001, 8). A qualitative approach will help a researcher resist focusing on the size and frequency of a frame, which can cause one to lose focus. Second, the mere presence of a frame does not necessarily mean it has influence; the volume of a given frame in a text does not necessarily mean it is salient, or that the most frequent frame is the most important (Entman, 1993, 53; Reese, 2001, 8). The goals of defining a frame and determining the power of a frame are better addressed with the qualitative approach. Qualitative approaches are interpretive and can be more critical than quantitative since they provide the means to describe the frames beyond the numerical measurements of size and frequency. The prominence of a frame also can be determined within this approach by weighing the importance of a frame according to the keywords, catchphrases and tone that are commonly associated with it. Qualitative approaches however can result in oversimplification of a complex structure by attempting to categorize news stories in terms of a single frame (Reese, 2001, 8; McCombs & Ghanem, 2001, 74). Ambiguity can also be a problem since description of a frame can be too extensive and fail to produce patterns or reduce mass information into meaningful themes (Reese, 2001, 8). These subtleties can also make framing difficult to define (Tankard, 2001, 96). Tankard forewarns that the process of naming frames in a qualitative study involves a kind of framing itself and may reduce a study’s credibility (2001, 98). Overall, the qualitative approach has the ability to determine influence and salience by focusing on more than one location and sometimes a combination of the locations of the communicator, text, receiver, and culture, while the quantitative approach is most concerned with the text and identifying the frame within that text. The process in which a framing analysis is conducted presents complications for researchers. Gamson and Modigliani warn there may be disagreement within a frame, in other words, both pro and con stances may be present simultaneously; yet not every disagreement is a disagreement frame (1989, 4). These subtleties are taken into account
during the analysis in which the tone of the article and frame are being determined. Also, in the hypothesis, the author noted she expects the frames within the documents to reflect the positions of the newspaper’s editorial boards on big media and the issuing of ownership waivers. Gamson and Modigliani, however, claim not every document can be identified with a clear-cut policy position (1989, 4). While every document may not take a position, this study set out to determine if the positions that were presented in the documents reflect the positions of the newspaper’s editorials. Method Altheide’s Qualitative Media Analysis outlines key points for framing analyses that have been taken into account for this research. First, he advises researchers to choose a format of documents or media to analyze since these formats of mass media have an impact on the frames and themes because of the differences in selection, organization, and presentation of information (Altheide, 1996, 29). For this study, the newspaper is the medium that will be analyzed. News reports, news briefs, and commentary pieces from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are the formats that will be included in this study.5 Altheide recommends the primary researcher code articles according to themes and frames. He describes themes as “miniframes for a report” and argues they are “most apparent in news reports.” Categorizing cities as more dangerous places than ever or classifying an administration as the most corrupt in all of history are two examples of frames that have been found in framing analyses (Altheide, 1996, 30). Altheide explains that themes and frames are related, but they are not determinate since different frames can be found within the same theme: Themes are the recurring typical theses that run through a lot of the reports. Frames are the focus, a parameter or boundary, for discussing a particular event. Frames focus on what will be discussed, how it will be discussed, and above all, how it will not be discussed. (1996, 31) According to Altheide, frames are broad thematic emphases or definitions of a report. An example of framing is presenting illegal drug use as a “public health issue” rather than a “criminal justice issue” (Altheide, 1996, 30).
5 For the purpose of this study, news brief is defined as being 250 words or fewer in length.
Altheide recommends the researcher “include the widest range of relevant messages” in the sample in order to “capture the meanings, emphasis, and themes of messages and to understand the organization and process of how they are presented” (Altheide, 1996, 33). However, he suggests researchers use a progressive theoretical sampling of documents in which the researcher selects documents based on their personal understanding of the topic under investigation, which was applied in this study (Altheide, 1996, 33). Documents pertaining to the application of a waiver, decisions made by the FCC and courts, and actions initiated by Congress and consumer groups are the focus of the analysis. As mentioned in Chapter One, documents that focus on union negotiations and waiver requests for other entities besides the New York Post and a television station in the same community are not included. Prior to the analysis, the researcher first read each document from both newspapers and summarized the news article or news brief in two or three sentences. After all the articles were read, they were categorized according to the themes within each. These categories revealed the frames used by the newspapers. Each frame was analyzed and described according to the common tone and keywords or phrases found within the headline and body of the article. The sources commonly referenced in each document and their relationships to the topic are also taken into account since they contribute to this study’s understanding of the frames. The information attributed to these sources and their subsequent treatment within the article, particularly if information is directly quoted, is important because this selection and presentation contributes to the establishment of frames and correlates to the importance of a frame. The information gathered from the Federal Communications Commission and court dockets further explained what information certain documents included and excluded. This study analyzed the documents according to the historical review discussed in Chapter Two. Information that was excluded or included was considered in determining how this may or may not have had an effect on the frames present. Finally, the frames found within the articles from both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal were compared to determine if the papers used similar frames at any given time. Prominence of the frames was determined according to the qualitative characteristics of frames. For instance, if keywords in one frame have stronger
connotations than in another, it can be inferred the frame with stronger connotations is more prominent. The same can be said of sources. The range of sources for these documents includes citizens, industry analysts, and public officials including but not limited to mayors, governors, senators, commissioners, and judges. The more significant an individual’s position, the more critical a frame becomes due to their presence. How a source’s comments are treated within the story is another indicator of importance. If an interviewee’s words are directly quoted rather than paraphrased, the journalist is indicating to readers that this certain individual is of more importance than other interviewees who are not directly quoted. These are examples of how frames will be categorized according to prominence. After the frames were identified, the situation as revealed through the historical review in Chapter Two was considered to determine what, if any action, within the FCC and court system had an effect on the frames. More specifically, if an event occurred that changed the course of a waiver request, this was taken into account to determine if at the same time, the frames within the documents were adjusted to reflect these events. For example, if a person or organization became involved and affected the speed with which the request was being analyzed and decided, the analysis set out to determine if the newspapers presented these events in a positive or negative manner. The frames that were found in this study using the above analysis are discussed in the following chapter. Chapter Four will not only describe and define these frames but also compare the frames found within the Wall Street Journal to those found within the New York Times.
CHAPTER FOUR Frames Found in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal In Chapter Two, the history of News Corporation’s cross-ownership waiver requests was reviewed. The relevancy of this information was further explained in Chapter Three, in which the framing theory and the analysis used in this study were clarified. This chapter will define the frames that were found during the analysis of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times documents. The discoveries revealed in this chapter will assist the author in making conclusions and answering the study’s research questions in the concluding chapter. Inclusion and Exclusion of Facts The presence and absence of certain facts in the Times’ and the Journal’s coverage has an impact on the types of frames that are manifested in the text and it’s important to be aware of which events were covered extensively and which the papers ignored. Two months before Rupert Murdoch applied for the waivers in July of 1985, both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times began publishing stories that indicated the News Corp. CEO was interested in buying Metromedia’s television stations, a purchase that would violate the rules. While the papers both acknowledged Murdoch was looking to expand and would ultimately seek special permission from the FCC regarding its ownership rules, the Journal published stories that discussed the grievances of public interest groups. Media Access Project, Washington Association for Television and Children, and Metrowest Corp. were a few of the organizations that petitioned Murdoch’s request; however, the Journal did not mention these groups by name, but simply stated in its coverage that petitioners were concerned the programming would become more violent if Murdoch became owner and were also concerned he did not have the sufficient funds to support this entity. The arguments presented by these groups were not covered by the Times. Both papers did report on the FCC’s decision to grant Murdoch a temporary 24- month waiver in November of 1985 and yet did not mention the decision was unanimous. Referring to the opinion issued by the FCC, the Journal discussed Chairman Mark Fowler’s reasoning for his vote as outlined in his concurring statement. The Times on the
other hand did not go into any detail as to why the commissioners voted in favor of the waiver. In 1988, Murdoch sought an extension of this temporary waiver. Prior to the FCC’s decision, Congress passed the federal budget for fiscal year 1988 that prohibited the FCC from using its appropriated money to grant extensions of temporary waivers or to amend the TV/newspaper cross-ownership rules. Both newspapers published several stories exploring how the stipulation was passed and who was behind the measure. Compared to the waiver request of 1985, the request of 1988 was covered more closely and extensively by both newspapers. After the FCC unanimously denied an extension, the papers followed News Corp. to the Court of Appeals until the judges provided Murdoch with a temporary extension to divest of the Post in March of 1988. Both papers published stories that discussed how the congressional action violated the First Amendment and unlawfully targeted Murdoch, according to the court. The Times however gave special attention to Judge Spottswood Robinson’s dissenting opinion and the majority’s conclusions regarding the language of the appropriations bill, perhaps because the judge had a different opinion than the Times and the newspaper sought to learn more about the opposing viewpoint. The Times was also the only one of the two publications to explain to its readers that the court did not uphold the FCC’s decision to deny a waiver but rather recommended the Commission revisit the waiver request Murdoch had submitted for the Boston market. As noted in Chapter Two, News Corp. had sold the New York Post prior to the court’s ruling and its waiver request was incapable of being revisited by the FCC. The interveners in this case were never mentioned in any of the Times’ or Journal’s stories. In 1993, five years after Murdoch sold the Post to Peter Kalikow, he re-emerged with interest in repurchasing the newspaper after the new owner had experienced financial hardships that resulted in the paper’s instability. Both the Times and the Journal reported Kalikow’s struggle to find a new buyer and his filing for bankruptcy protection. The Times supplemented its coverage by reporting on Abraham Hirschfeld’s temporary management of the Post and the editorial staff’s revolt against his decisions. The Times was also the only paper to report on Murdoch’s interaction with New York elected
officials, the governor, and a state senator, from whom he sought support to repurchase the paper. The organizations that petitioned Murdoch’s decision to reclaim ownership of the Post were referenced only occasionally by the publications. The petitioners that were identified by the Times and Journal did not correspond to those that were included in the FCC’s records. For instance, the Times identified the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Metropolitan Offices of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Caucus for Media Diversity, National Black Media Coalition, the Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People, Amsterdam News, and Wilbert Tatum as the petitioners who urged the Commission to deny the request. The Journal identified only two Hispanic organizations that were not mentioned by the name in the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling, Rainbow Broadcasting, Inc., and National Hispanic Media Coalition. The Journal identified these groups as supporters of a hearing to investigate Fox’s misrepresentations to the Commission. The papers followed the FCC’s handling of the request until a decision was made in the summer of 1993. The Journal reported on the majority opinion while the Times tended to focus on FCC Chairman James Quello’s concurring statement, emphasizing the need to preserve jobs with a waiver. Both newspapers reported on Commissioner Andrew Barrett’s dissenting opinion, which argued the FCC should have made a decision only after the bankruptcy court had. After the FCC’s decision was issued, the Caucus for Diversity filed a petition, which was reported only by the Journal. The FCC’s denial of the petition and the consumer group’s appeal of its decision to the court was not followed by either paper, however the Times did report the court’s 1995 decision to uphold the FCC’s 1993 ruling. Coverage of the cross-ownership waivers re-emerged in 2001 when News Corp. purchased Chris-Craft Industries and acquired ten additional television stations, exceeding the FCC’s ownership limits. The Journal and the Times reported on the violation of rules the purchase resulted in, but did not explain Fox’s rationale for not requesting an additional cross-ownership waiver. The papers reported on the FCC’s 3-2 decision to grant Fox three waivers of the rules. The Wall Street Journal was the only paper to offer explanations of the three waivers issued by the FCC while the Times
reported only on details related to the 12-month waiver of the national TV audience cap and the 24-month cross-ownership waiver in New York. Neither the Journal nor the Times reported the waiver for New York City had never been requested by Fox. The petitioners of this particular waiver also were not mentioned in either paper’s reportage. FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s concurring opinion was highlighted in each newspaper, briefly explaining he supported the waiver because he believed the market was large enough to warrant these ownership combinations. Commissioner Gloria Tristani’s dissenting opinion went unnoticed by the Journal, but the Times did report her concerns of a Commission granting a waiver that never was applied for. Neither newspaper reported on the following year’s Court of Appeals case; the coverage of Murdoch’s request for cross-ownership waivers in the New York market ends in 2001 in both the Times and the Journal. The presentation of the information that was included in the reports revealed frames the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times used to help its readers make sense of these events. There was a total sample of 81 articles included in this analysis. These documents pertained to Murdoch’s decision to sell or purchase properties resulting in waiver requests, legislation, FCC and court decisions, and petitions. Documents concerning the union negotiations, waivers for other markets and properties other than the New York community were omitted from this study. In this chapter, the frames that were found will be revealed and defined. The descriptions will explain the tone most frequently associated with the frame, common keywords and phrases found in the headline and body of the text, and the sources whose presence helps shape the frame. WSJ Frames The Wall Street Journal news articles, briefs, and commentary pieces revealed five common frames throughout. In total, there are 34 documents; 3 documents were omitted when it was discovered the content did not fit within the scope of this study. Of the 34 documents in the analysis, there are 26 news stories, 7 news briefs (news stories that are 250 words or fewer), and 1 editorial from the Leisure and Arts Section.6
6 For a complete list of the articles used in this study, please see Appendix D.
1. Murdoch has a history of challenging the rules. Within this frame, Rupert Murdoch has been classified as seeking a waiver because he does not want to play by the FCC’s rules. His past in Australia and England and the rules in those countries he has managed to receive permission to bypass are discussed in the documents that use this frame. The “media magnate” (Saddler & Mayer, 1985; “New law,” 1988; Roberts, 1988) is described as “planning to win government clearance” and is presented as the reason the FCC or court has become a “battleground” over media ownership rules (Saddler, 1986; “Murdoch files,” 1988). Other common keywords found within this frame include “circumvent,” “sidestep,” “repeal,” and “overturn” (Saddler & Mayer, 1985; “New law,” 1988; Roberts, 1988). The tone commonly associated with this frame is negative. The headlines of documents that use this frame tend to use neutral terminology; however, some headlines are clear in presenting Murdoch as the challenger of a ban or a victim of legislation who is considering a “lawsuit to overturn rule” (“Murdoch challenging,” 1988; “Murdoch files,” 1988). This frame tends to be found in news articles that document the beginnings of the waiver request in 1985, 1988, and 2001, but is most commonly present in 1988. Common sources that are found within these documents tend to be affidavits and FCC opinion dockets. Legal counsel for Murdoch and the FCC, and current and former FCC chairmen, in particular Mark Fowler and James Quello, provide insight into the current rules and regulations on media ownership and offer their thoughts on the likelihood of Murdoch’s receiving a waiver.7 Comments from outsiders on this issue, including Media Access Project lawyer Robert Gurss, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and House Telecommunications Subcommittee members, are provided in these documents to further portray Murdoch as a troublemaker. Gurss of the MAP is quoted expressing his confusion over the purchase: “I can’t see any way we’d support his buying the stations if he doesn’t sell the newspapers” (Saddler & Mayer, 1985). This frame is used by the Journal to offer reasons why there tends to be a negative attitude toward News Corp. and its CEO, Rupert Murdoch.
7 For a complete list of all sources in the articles please see Appendix D.
2. A waiver of the rules should not be an option. This frame presents the requesting and the granting of a waiver as a complicated political matter. This frame is used to illustrate the drawbacks and benefits of a waiver and offer reasons why it should not be applied for or granted. First, the frame is used in a positive manner to show support and respect for the rules and the importance of abiding by the rules. In this context, prior to the filing of a 24-month waiver in 1985, Murdoch is described through an unidentified spokesman as not wanting to seek a waiver because he did not “want to ask for any special privileges” after purchasing Metromedia television stations (Mayer & Saddler, 1985). An industry analyst, John Morton of Lynch, Jones & Ryan, is quoted offering support for Murdoch’s decision to sell the paper rather than seek a waiver because of the paper’s incurred debt (Mayer & Saddler, 1985). Murdoch’s willingness to “satisfy a federal regulation” and divest of the properties that are in violation of the FCC’s rules are presented in a positive tone to readers; the frame indicates this is the best and right thing to do (Mayer & Saddler, 1985; “News Corp.,” 1986). While the first theme of this frame explains why a request is not ideal, this second theme questions the FCC’s willingness to examine the request thoroughly. The frame also criticizes the FCC for even considering granting permission to a company to be excused from the rules, identifying problems that would result if the waiver were granted. This theme is most commonly found in 1985 and 2001 when News Corp. purchased television stations. The Journal reports that Murdoch could receive the waiver only “with some political maneuvering,” indicating the FCC may not be applying enough scrutiny to the request (Carroll, 2001). The criticism of the FCC is supported by a direct quote from an aide to Rep. Timothy Wirth (D-CO), who describes the FCC as “looking for a backdoor way to gut its cross-ownership rules” (“FCC may,” 1985). The newspaper uses the frame to raise concerns about the market, speculating it is “overcrowded” and there may not be enough resources to support another newspaper, thereby supporting a denial of the waiver (Reilly, 1993, March 25). Murdoch’s naturalization status and News Corp.’s foreign ties are also addressed within this frame, affirming that the cross-ownership ban is not the only regulation Murdoch would be violating (Carroll, 2001). This frame advocates media
owners’ following the FCC’s rules and suggests that market forces rather than politics should play a larger role in regulating ownership. The common sources found within this frame include representatives of News Corp., including a spokesman, adviser, and executive of News America; industry analysts, and congressional aides. This frame is pervasive, encompassing waiver requests from 1985 through 2001. Regardless of the divergent tones of this frame, it has the same message: a waiver of the rules should not be requested or granted. 3. A waiver of the rules would affect the public interest. This frame consists of two different themes. The first theme concerns the negative effects a waiver would have, particularly in the broadcast industry. This is most commonly present in 1985 and in 2000 when Murdoch purchased television stations. The Journal refers to these effects as “ramifications,” emphasizing the negative tones of the frame (Abrams & Cieply, 1985, May 6). In one example, the Journal explains that the purchase would provide Fox with enough resources to become a vertically and horizontally integrated company and thus position itself in a way that it could start a fourth network that would compete with ABC, CBS, and NBC (Abrams & Cieply, 1985, May 6). The Journal presents the introduction of a new networking company into the market and increased competition as a drawback to the granting of the waiver. Another reason raises concern over a global company that has a presence in England and Australia becoming increasingly present in the U.S. markets (Abrams & Cieply, 1985, May 6). Murdoch’s already “substantial interests” are presented as justification for his company not being allowed to expand domestically (Abrams & Cieply, 1985, May 6). The Journal provides no information on whether there may be enough resources to be shared with a fourth network as the previous frame indicated in the Post. This frame emphasizes that News Corp. already controls more than 25 percent of the stations in the U.S. in violation of the foreign ownership rules. The newspaper warns readers that if Murdoch “can’t find a way around Federal Communications Commission rules” or clear the “regulatory hurdles,” he would have to sell the “brash tabloid,” the New York Post, indicating this divestiture would not serve the public interest either (Abrams & Cieply, 1985, May 6; Abrams & Cieply, 1985, May 7). Anthony Cassara, president of Golden West Television in Los Angeles, explains what this transaction
means for the industry: “you’ve either got to get bigger or smaller, but it’s going to be hard to stay where you are.” This demonstrates Murdoch is leading the way in raising the bar for competitors (Abrams & Cieply, 1985, May 6). In 2000, the Journal specifically presents Murdoch’s purchase of Chris-Craft Industries’ television stations as a threat to UPN, a small network that was broadcast on the few stations formerly owned by Chris-Craft. One headline summarized the tone of this theme: “UPN TV Network’s future looks bleak” (Flint, 2000). The author reported that Murdoch’s deal could “snuff out” Viacom’s subsidiary and leave “little incentive for Viacom to keep the network afloat.” The frame attempts to bring attention to the possible drawbacks of the waiver and to indicate ways in which the public interest would not be served. This theme frequently quotes executives of Fox and other broadcast companies including Katz TV Group, UPN Chairman Dean Valentine, and an unidentified spokesman for World Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment) to offer their comments about UPN’s and other networks’ viability. Vice President of Katz TV, Bill Carroll, is quoted to accent the concerns about the future: “I would say it is 60-40 against UPN surviving this” (Flint, 2000). Contrasting the first theme’s negative view of a company getting larger and potentially pushing out other networks with a waiver of the rules, the second theme of this frame concerns how the waiver would protect the public interest and provides reasons why the waiver should be granted. Unlike the first theme that concerned broadcast, the second is focused on print. Murdoch is quoted as saying he sought the waiver to ensure he had plenty of “time for an ‘orderly’ sale of the newspapers” (“Murdoch asks,” 1985). The Journal makes clear in its publications and through sources, particularly Murdoch, that it is best for the market if the property were sold at its full price, and also that the granting of a waiver would be consistent with how the FCC applies its rules (“Murdoch asks,” 1985). James McKinney, a representative of the FCC’s Mass Media Bureau, is quoted saying: “The FCC believes the public is best served when the market is allowed to work at full play” (Saddler, 1985). The information attributed to Murdoch and McKinney support this theme; they argue there are benefits for the market and ultimately for the public interest if the sale of the paper is handled properly.
In addition, arguments are made in the documents that the cross-ownership rules are not serving the public interest and that the ban does more harm than good. An article by Bob Davis offers evidence that the rules have resulted in the FCC’s forcing companies to divest themselves of newspapers (1988, Jan. 8). A quote from Everette Davis, executive director of the Gannett Center for Media Studies in New York, argues, “In most markets, there’s only one newspaper and one or two dominant television stations. The result could be unfair competition” (Davis, 1988, Jan. 8). The closure of the Washington Star newspaper after the FCC denied its former owner’s request for a waiver and forced the unprofitable paper to be sold is used to support why a waiver would be better than no waiver (Davis, 1988, Jan. 8). In this second theme, Murdoch is referred to as an “Australian-born media magnate” and “head of the world-wide media giant” (Saddler, 1985; Reilly, 1993, March 26). These terms raise questions regarding the positive tone that is present in other areas of the frame. In 1993, however, Murdoch is portrayed as a possible solution to the internal problems that had surfaced under Abraham Hirschfeld’s management of the Post, affirming the frame’s support of a waiver to protect print media’s interests (Reilly, 1993, March 26 & March 29). In summary, the public interest frame is used to comment on the potential negative and positive outcomes of a cross-ownership waiver. 4. Decisions concerning the waiver are being delayed. This frame appears throughout the Journal’s coverage of Murdoch’s waiver requests. This frame helps make sense of petitions and the length of time it takes for agencies to reach a decision. The status of the waiver request is regularly described as being “postponed” or “taken off the fast track” as a result of these actions (“FCC delays,” 1985; “Murdoch’s attempt,” 1993). Congress, public interest organizations, the FCC, and the court are framed by the Journal as delaying the sale or decision regarding Murdoch’s request (Davis, 1987, Nov. 6; Davis, 1988, Jan. 26; “FCC asks,” 1993; “FCC delays,” 1985). Congress is presented as the antagonist, affecting the waiver’s course with legislation. The omnibus-spending bill that is passed in the winter of 1987 is frequently referred to as the “little-noticed provision” that negatively impacted the progress of the Commission’s decision concerning the waiver (Davis, 1987, Dec. 31).
Petitions, particularly those filed by the Freedom of Expression Foundation, are portrayed as vehicles with the ability “to delay the sale of the New York Post” (Davis, 1987, Nov. 6). The headline for a story about the Freedom of Expression Foundation’s petition read: “Move May Allow Murdoch to Delay Newspaper Sales” (Davis, 1987, Nov. 6). The FCC’s decision to spend more time reviewing the petitions was presented by the newspaper as, “FCC Delays Weighing Plan By Murdoch to Buy Stations” (1985). The tone that is most commonly associated with this frame is negative, since the terminology indicates frustration in the delays that emerge throughout the process. The headlines of these articles parallel this orientation by using keywords such as “blocked,” “loses,” “delay,” and “set back” (Davis, 1987, Dec. 31; “Murdoch’s attempt,” 1993; Davis, 1987, Nov. 6; Davis, 1988, Jan. 26). Sources present within this frame appear to provide only their reaction to the actions that are “delaying” the sale. Murdoch is commonly quoted as not being concerned with the delay in issuing a decision either for or against the waiver since it is “part of the process” (“FCC delays,” 1985). At one point, he was described as being “gratified” by the court’s decision to push back the sale of the Post (Davis, 1988, Jan. 26). FCC Chairman Mark Fowler, another common source present in this frame, offers his support for the Commission’s delaying the decision because it is a “contentious issue” (“Murdoch’s attempt,” 1993). While this frame encompasses a broad range of time, its focus is clear that the actions initiated by petitioners, FCC, Congress, and court have the potential to unnecessarily delay a decision on the waiver or the sale of the Post. 5. The government and consumer groups disagree on whether the waiver should be granted or denied. This frame presents the disagreement or conflict between government and the public concerning the waivers in a negative light. Similar to the previous frame in which a decision regarding the waiver is being “delayed,” this frame presents the disagreements as indicators that the issue still is unresolved. For each decision that is not unanimously handed down by the FCC or the courts in 1988, 1993, or 2001, the Journal describes the split as being “along party lines” or being a “party-line vote” 2-1 or 3-2 (Dreazen, 2001; “FCC clears,” 2001). When a decision upsets consumer groups or congressmen, the Journal uses keywords and phrases to bring attention to this disagreement. For instance,
the organizations are characterized as potential petitioners who would “fight the waiver” or appeal the decision because of their “spirited opposition” (Reilly & Carnevale, 1993; “FCC grants,” 1993). When the FCC denies a petition, the Journal uses verbs such as “rebuff” to emphasize the continual power struggle that appears to be taking place between the public and regulators (“FCC clears, 2001). In addition to the differences of opinion between the FCC and consumer groups, the differences between Congress and the court are also covered extensively. When the courts did not agree with the constitutionality of the omnibus-spending bill, the Journal chose to explain that the court “threw out” the Hollings Amendment rather than stating that the court found it to be unconstitutional (Davis, 1988, March 30). Tensions between congressmen regarding the amendment are covered extensively within this frame. Efforts made by senators to reverse the order are “defeated” 60-29 according to the Journal because of differences of opinion among a majority of the members (“Senate defeats,” 1988). Since the disagreements outweigh the number of unanimous agreements, each time a decision is made in Murdoch’s favor, it is portrayed as being a “big victory” or a “win” for the CEO (Davis, 1988, March 30; Reilly & Carnevale, 1993). The most common sources that are referenced in these documents are primary sources, the opinion dockets issued by the FCC or courts. In addition, comments from senators and FCC commissioners who have the power to influence the final decision regarding the waiver request also are provided. Their comments are used to further accent the division between members of an agency. The viewpoints of Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Ernest Hollings (D-SC) appear frequently since they were the masterminds behind the provision. In 1988, when Murdoch sought an extension of the waiver, the newspaper used this frame to amplify the differing viewpoints of the senators weeks later. Kennedy was quoted saying he supported a waiver to allow Murdoch “a little more time” to sell the paper while Hollings was quoted saying, “He got one extension already (to sell the Post); he’s not getting any waivers” (Davis & Roberts, 1988). The tone most commonly associated with this frame is negativity. While decisions are being made either affirming or denying the waiver request, the decisions are framed as not completely settling the issue, thus leading to additional petitions or appeals.
NYT Frames There are 47 New York Times documents included in this analysis: 39 news stories, 6 news briefs (news stories that are 250 words or fewer in length), and 2 commentaries. Five articles were omitted because the topics discussed in them did not fit within the scope of this study. The 47 documents comprising this analysis revealed five frames. 1. The future of the paper is in jeopardy without a waiver and/or Murdoch. This frame is commonly found in documents dated 1988 and 1993 and is used to indicate how the waiver would save the newspaper and preserve the market. In 1988, the frame raises concern over Murdoch’s being forced to divest himself of the paper because of a congressional appropriations bill that “stripped” the FCC of its power (Jones, 1988, Jan. 5). The Times uses this frame to discuss how the waiver would preserve the presence of one voice within the media and community. The Post’s future frequently is described as being “uncertain” without the waiver, since it is a “teetering,” “ailing,” and “cash- starved, pixilated newspaper” (Jones, 1998, Jan. 8; Gottlieb, 1993, March 24; Lyall, 1988; McFadden, 1993). Newspaper analyst John Morton provides an explanation of the Post’s annual loses and claims it deters potential buyers (Jones, 1988 Jan. 1). Other unidentified industry analysts are quoted saying “The New York Post is far less likely to survive under another owner” (Jones, 1988, Jan. 5). Morton portrays Murdoch as a good Samaritan because he is the only one who “has been willing to subsidize the operation” (Jones, 1988, Jan. 1) and isn’t willing to sell the paper unless he has a guarantee the paper would stay open under the new owner (Jones, 1988, Jan. 20). Efforts made by senators to reverse the legislation and comments from public officials are provided to express concern over job losses if Murdoch did not receive the waiver to keep the paper. Cardinal John O’Connor, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, was quoted saying “I just cannot understand depriving this city of another newspaper” (Barron, 1988). FCC Chairman James Quello, Mayor Ed Koch, Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY), and union leader George McDonald are also frequently quoted about the number of jobs at stake (Andrews, 1993, June 30; Barron, 1988; Jones, 1988, Jan. 8). When Murdoch sells the paper to real estate developer Peter Kalikow, the Times uses this frame to present the sales agreement between the two men in a positive
manner since the contract keeps Murdoch in the loop; leaving open a window of opportunity to reclaim ownership in the future if Kalikow decides to sell.8 In 1993, Murdoch’s interest in reclaiming the reins of the Post emerges (Gottlieb, 1993, March 30). The frame is used again to describe his coming “just in time,” because he is the “buyer of last resort” (McFadden, 1993; Jones, 1988, Jan. 21). Gov. Mario Cuomo is quoted as saying Murdoch’s leadership is “the only realistic hope for long-term survival” (Gottlieb, 1993, March 25). His lawyers warn the paper would “very well cease operations” without a waiver because Murdoch would not complete the deal unless he were granted a permanent waiver (“Murdoch requests,” 1993). In addition, Murdoch is framed as being the only one willing to rescue the paper from Abraham Hirschfeld, whose management has resulted in editorial staff revolts. Murdoch’s management is presented as being ideal for the Post, an idea supported by data regarding the size of the workforce and rate of salary cuts before and during Hirschfeld’s management. When Murdoch does receive a permanent waiver to repurchase the Post, the staff’s reaction is characterized as “spirited” (Gottlieb, 1993, March 30) and his return is described as saving “America’s oldest continuously published newspaper” which “appeared to have been pulled from death’s door” (Gottlieb, 1993, March 30). In 1995 when the Court of Appeals upholds the FCC’s decision to grant Murdoch a permanent waiver, the key reason offered by the Times as to why the court ruled unanimously was “because hundreds of jobs were at stake” (Associated Press, 1995). The frame is positive toward a waiver. In summary, the frame presents Murdoch as the best manager and owner for the Post. The frame is used to justify why Murdoch should be allowed to maintain or resume ownership of the Post and emphasizes the benefits it would have on the paper and the community. 2. The purchase of the media property is a bad deal. This frame is commonly found in 1985 articles and addresses monetary and regulatory reasons Murdoch should not purchase media properties, whether the Post or television stations. The first theme within this frame is that the purchase of the additional property violates the FCC’s ownership rules and would require divestiture of properties
8 The Times makes no mention of the funds Murdoch has agreed to and is required to supply the paper according to the sales-purchase agreement (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a, par. 4).
(Purdum, 1985). In addition, the frame is used to speculate about the probability of Murdoch receiving a waiver that would allow him to keep all the properties. A quote from FCC spokesman William Russell, explains, “No company or individual has ever been allowed to keep both” (Salmans, 1985). His comments stress the risk Murdoch is taking in purchasing additional entities because he will likely not be allowed to keep them all. In other instances, the articles merely explain that FCC rules bar newspaper owners from owning more than 5% of a broadcast station in the same city (Cole, 1985; Purdum, 1985; Salmans, 1985; “Murdoch Explores,” 1993). Another theme within this frame addresses the financial reasons the deal should not be made. Analysts in particular are the sources most referred to concerning the amount of debt News Corp. already has and how much it would increase (Cole, 1985; Purdum, 1985; Fabrikant, 1993). In addition, analysts are interviewed to stress that the amount of money Murdoch would be paying for these properties is not smart business. For example, Lee Isgur, a securities analyst for Paine Webber, is quoted as questioning whether the TV stations Murdoch is willing to pay top dollar for would earn a profit in the future (Cole, 1985). To distinguish this purchase, the Times tends to stress that Murdoch has offered $2 billion for the Metromedia TV stations and reiterates that this transaction would be the “second-largest” in TV history (Cole, 1985; Purdum, 1985). In addition to these regulatory and financial concerns, the frame characterizes the purchase as having bad timing. Analysts again are the main sources who question how the company will be able to sustain long-term since it is already trying to come “out from under a financial debacle” (Fabrikant, 1993). The Post’s circulation and profit losses are frequently offered as additional reasons as to why Murdoch should not be considering purchases of TV stations or other properties. In 2001, this frame makes an appearance again when the purchase of Chris-Craft Industries raises questions about the future of the UPN network. While there are many benefits for News Corp. in owning more television stations in the same community, concerns over the rules the purchase is violating and future of a network that is showing “recent signs of growth” are raised (Carter & Fabrikant, 2000). In sum, this frame draws on analysts’ expertise to offer economic evidence that the purchase of a media entity should not be allowed through a waiver.
3. Murdoch should sell the Post. This frame appears only in 1988 when Murdoch sought an extension of the temporary waiver that was granted in 1985. In this frame, Murdoch is treated in a derogatory manner because he “appears to believe he cannot own too many communications companies” (“Cutting back,” 1988). In subsequent articles, congressional legislation and the FCC’s denial of an extension are presented as the basis for Murdoch’s decision to not pursue a permanent waiver of the rules. The decision to sell to Kalikow is the beginning of the end of “turmoil” and “controversy” according to the Times (McFadden, 1988). The history of owners of the Post frequently is discussed within this frame to accent the transition of management (“Cutting back,” 1988; “Murdoch affirms,” 1986; McFadden, 1988; Erlanger, 1988, Feb. 8). The sources commonly found within this frame tend to be employees of News Corp., such as unionized employees and representatives, spokespeople, and Murdoch himself. Their comments are not used to offer reasons as to why Murdoch shouldn’t sell the paper but are included to provide status reports on where the unions are in preparing for a new owner and where Murdoch is in finalizing the sale. This frame is negative toward Murdoch’s seeking of a waiver but positive towards his decision to sell. 4. Decisions concerning a waiver of the rules are not in the public interest. This frame provides negative portrayals of Murdoch’s requests for waivers and appropriations legislation in Congress. Predominantly found in 1988, the frame highlights Murdoch’s interest in purchasing media properties and seeking a waiver of the rules to prevent divestiture of properties. It is presented as not being in the public interest because the transaction violates the rules. This is first made clear in 1985, when Murdoch purchases Metromedia’s television stations, explaining he would be “compelled to sell” because he is “in violation of commission rules barring such arrangements” (Berger, 1985; Stuart, 1985). When Congress passed a stipulation in the 1988 fiscal year budget, the provision is characterized as a “little-noticed action,” a “catchall spending bill” that was “tucked” in at the “last minute,” and which has erected a “barrier” against Murdoch’s receiving a waiver (Jones, 1987; Lewis, 1988; Rasky, 1988). An essay by William Safire of the Times argues what Congress did was unconstitutional and an abuse of power (1988).
When the appellate court makes a decision ruling against the omnibus-spending bill, in a Times headline the decision is not presented as a win for the First Amendment or the public but rather presents the judges as looking out for News Corp.: “Court backs Murdoch” (Jones, 1988, March 30). Murdoch is described as someone who “has bullied, slithered and bluffed his way past the rules on three continents” (Lewis, 1988). In the paper’s explanation of the court’s decision, the Times reports Judges Stephen Williams and Laurence Silberman “scolded” Congress for its action (Jones, 1988, March 30). While the decisions made by the court provide closure to the situation and appear to be supported by the positive language present within this frame, the Times uses it mostly to attack the decisions and actions initiated by Murdoch and Congress. In 2001, when Murdoch receives three waivers from the FCC, he is presented as having “unprecedented control” (Blair, 2001, July 26). In addition, the FCC’s decision is depicted as likely having “far-reaching implications” because Murdoch is not “afraid of using his control of The New York Post to push his agenda” (Blair, 2001, July 26). Industry analysts and representatives of public interest organizations and other media outlets are the sources commonly found in these documents to support the frame. In summary, this frame is used by the Times to offer reasons why Murdoch’s decision to seek a waiver, Congress’s passing of the Hollings Amendment, and the FCC’s decision to grant waivers to News Corp. are not in the pubic interest. 5. Disagreement over a wavier and Murdoch are getting in the way of decision- making. This frame is first used in 1988 to describe the differences of opinion between Murdoch and Congress. The disagreement is characterized as being “bitter” and resulting in “furor” and a “rancorous debate” among members of Congress (Jones, 1988, Jan. 11). The debates among senators are described as being “unusually pointed” and are sometimes a “heated exchange” (Molotsky, 1988). These differences are presented as the reason a measure that could have reversed the law for Murdoch was “defeated” (Molotsky, 1988). Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Timothy Wirth (D-CO), and Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY), are the most common sources during this time. Their presence is used not only to offer their perspectives on whether the legislation was necessary, but how and if it should be reversed, as well as to emphasize the disagreement between
congressmen who are delaying the waiver situation from being resolved (Jones, 1988, Jan. 11; Molotsky, 1988). In 1993, when Murdoch sought to repurchase the Post, complaints made by minority groups are presented as trying to protect the public interest because Murdoch’s ownership of the paper and other media properties in the same community would “stifle competition” (Tolchin, 1993). However, the opinions these organizations have regarding the waivers contrast with those of Murdoch and some members of Congress. As noted in Chapter Two, there were very few opponents of the 1993 permanent waiver request compared to the 1988 temporary waiver extension, yet, a “rumbling of discontent” was not completely absent at this time according to the Times (Andrews, 1993, April 4). Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Ernest Hollings (D-SC) had no plans to intervene concerning the waiver request, yet public interest organizations did instead. The inaction and action of these individuals and groups illustrates the frame because the public and its representatives can’t agree on how the waiver should be handled. The petitions that are filed with the FCC to stop the Commission from granting a waiver (Andrews, 1993, May 6) contrasts with the support Murdoch has from some elected officials, including Gov. Mario Cuomo (Tolchin, 1993). Representatives of these minority groups, including the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Metropolitan Council of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, are used to contrast the comments provided by individuals and groups who do support the waiver, such as the Congress of Racial Equality (Tolchin, 1993). The “potential division” between the FCC commissioners further supports the frame (Andrews, 1993, June 25). The Commission is presented as being unable to agree concerning the waiver request. Chairman James Quello is quoted expressing his frustration over the prolonged inaction of the Commission: “We should just get this done, vote it up or down. This request came in April, and we haven’t made a decision by June 25” (Andrews, 1993, June 26). Comments from aides of other commissioners verify the differences of opinion at the FCC. The differences of opinion are presented as the reason Murdoch’s bid to purchase the Post “hung in the balance” (Andrews, 1993, June 26). These differences also are portrayed as the reason the “battle lines hardened” at the FCC between supporters and opponents of the waiver (Andrews, 1993, June 26).
This frame also is present in 2001 pending the FCC’s decision to grant Murdoch three waivers of the rules. Prior to the vote, the Times made clear the differences of opinion between the commissioners and public interest groups (Blair, 2001, July 21). A quote from Media Access Project president Andrew Schwartzman is used to attack the Commission’s decision to grant the waiver. He is quoted as arguing that since the properties the waiver is for are not failing properties, the arguments put forth supporting a waiver “don’t have any bearing” (Blair, 2001, July 21). A comment from Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher of The Daily News, is also offered. He argues there were plenty of other interested buyers in the Post and therefore a waiver to prevent divestiture of the paper was not necessary (Blair, 2001, July 21). Negativity is the tone that is most commonly associated with this frame as the disagreement is presented as the reason the waiver is not granted in Murdoch’s favor (Andrews, 1993, June 25). Comparing the Frames Ten frames were discovered in this qualitative analysis revealing similarities and differences in how the newspapers have presented the same topic over a period of time. Both papers at one point or another present Rupert Murdoch in a negative manner. The New York Times is perhaps more favorable to how it treats the News Corp. CEO in its coverage, while the Wall Street Journal has an entire frame dedicated to portraying Murdoch in a negative manner (“Murdoch has a history of challenging the rules”). Both papers also have addressed the public interest factor in their coverage of the waiver requests. The Wall Street Journal has tailored its public interest frame, “A waiver of the rules would affect the public interest,” to focus on keeping a newspaper open in 1988 and 1993. The Times on the other hand has used this frame, “The future of the paper is in jeopardy without a waiver and/or Murdoch,” to address the ability of the waiver to save jobs and preserve the market, which was also most commonly present in 1988 and 1993. Disagreement among government bodies and the public also played a role in the frames that were used by the publications. These disputes were present in both newspapers in 1988, 1993, and 2001. The Journal framed the disagreements as leaving the waiver requests unsettled whereas the Times suggested the disagreements were responsible for getting in the way of a waiver decision. The Journal, however, used a different frame, “Decisions concerning the waiver are being delayed,” to present the
decisions and actions being initiated by the public and government agencies. For example, the consumer group’s decision to petition the FCC’s ruling was framed as causing a delay in bringing the waiver matter to a close. The Times instead framed these decisions as not serving the public interest because they did not keep the consumer’s interests in mind first and foremost. Both publications have similar frames that address the economics related to the waiver. The Journal’s frame, “A waiver of the rules should not be an option,” provided concerns regarding the overcrowded market and limiting resources available to sustain the newspaper as reasons the waiver should be denied. Within this same frame, the Journal provided support for Murdoch’s decision at one point to not seek a waiver and abide by the rules. Contrasting this is the Times’ frame, “The purchase of the media property is a bad deal.” Within this frame the publication addresses how the purchase violates the rules, would increase the company’s debt, and make it difficult to divest itself of other properties, (i.e. the Post) as required by the FCC. The frames are most commonly present in 1985, however the Journal’s frame also appears in 1993 and 2001. While the presentation of the frames differs between the publications, sources commonly used in these frames are found in both newspapers. Public officials at the local, state, and federal level are interviewed to help shape and affirm the frames used by the publications. News Corp. executives and Post employees, along with representatives of other media organizations and industry analysts, are commonly present. In one instance, the Journal and the Times both interviewed industry analyst John Morton, whose presence helped affirm the frames, “A waiver of the rules should not be an option” and “The future of the paper is in jeopardy without a waiver and/or Murdoch,” respectively. The following chapter will analyze these frames further to determine what antecedent conditions influenced the frames, what the functions of the frames serve, as well as which frames were most prominent.
CHAPTER FIVE Conclusions and Evaluation of Study This study set out to examine the cross-ownership waiver and to understand specifically how requests made by Rupert Murdoch for waivers in the New York market during the 1980s and 1990s were presented by national newspapers in that market. Chapter Two provided a historical look at how the waivers have been handled by the Federal Communications Commission and the court. The arguments offered by the commissioners and the judges in their published opinions have revealed the thought process by which the government attempts to address a waiver request. Through these documents, the diverse opinions of the petitioners, the applicant (News Corporation), the FCC, and Congress have been uncovered. To expand on the viewpoints different organizations have toward waivers, the author conducted a qualitative framing analysis of two New York-based newspapers to determine whether the frames used in the articles correlated with the editorial boards’ published opinions about waivers. The manner in which the waiver requests and decisions were presented in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times revealed ten distinct frames, which were defined in Chapter Four. This chapter will evaluate these frames more closely to learn more about what purpose they serve, examine why and how they were formed, and determine if they are appropriate vehicles to learn more about the communicator. Frames are used to assist the communicator and receiver in understanding a topic, but also serve a broader function. Chapter Three identified these functions as: defining problems, diagnosing causes, making moral judgments, and suggesting remedies (Entman, 1993, 52). At least one of these functions was discovered within each frame. Framing Functions The documents included in this study did not consistently identify ownership waivers as the problem; there were variations in what was deemed the “problem” over time. In one frame used by the Journal, “Murdoch has a history of challenging the rules,” Rupert Murdoch’s interest in being exempt from media ownership rules around the world was defined as the problem. In addition, the frame was used to diagnose the cause of this problem, explaining his past experience with regulators in Australia, England, and the United States, and his success rate in getting around the rules gave him confidence in
being able to accomplish the same in the New York market. In a second frame, “A waiver of the rules would affect the public interest,” the Journal identified the problem as the waiver itself. Offering positive outcomes from a waiver, the paper also discussed how a temporary waiver of the rules would have negative consequences for the public. In a third frame, “The government and consumer groups disagree on whether the waiver should be granted or denied,” the Journal identified the disagreements as the problem and defined the differences of opinion among public policy shapers: the FCC, Congress, courts, and public interest groups. The New York Times used the defining problem and diagnosing causes functions to frame these disagreements. In the “Disagreements over a waiver and Murdoch are getting in the way of decision-making” frame, the Times identified the inability of policy makers to make decisions in a timely manner as the problem and diagnosed the cause to be the conflict among organizations and individuals. It’s important to note that the Times had only one frame that used the problem and cause functions. Similarly, the Journal framed the delay in decisions as the problem but blamed this inaction on the actions and/or decisions made by other individuals and organizations. In the frame, “Decisions concerning the waiver are being delayed,” the Journal targeted petitions, congressional legislation, and other decisions made by the FCC and court to extend deliberation as the reasons the waiver requests were not being brought to a close. In total, five frames found in this study functioned to define the problem and three diagnosed the causes of those problems. The frames also utilized the two remaining functions, making moral judgments and suggesting remedies. The Journal’s frame, “A waiver of the rules should not be an option” was used to justify why it is ethical to follow and not break the rules outlined by the FCC, presenting the pros and cons of not applying for a waiver. The Journal’s frames used the moral function only once; however, this function is most commonly utilized within the Times’ frames. “The future of the paper is in jeopardy without a waiver and/or Murdoch” frame makes a moral judgment about Murdoch’s decision to retain the Post. Within this frame, the Times offered reasons why Murdoch should be allowed to maintain/resume ownership, citing his willingness to fund the Post despite its debts and keep the presses open as evidence of his integrity.
In another frame, “Decisions concerning a waiver of the rules are not in the public interest,” the Times judges the organizations and individuals involved in the waiver process. The frame is used to identify the waiver application, the appropriations legislation, and the granting of waivers as examples of unethical decision-making because the decision-makers didn’t take into account what was best for the public. This frame is also used to suggest remedies for the situation. A commentary by Anthony Lewis outlined a strategy for Murdoch that would allow him keep both the Post and the WNEW-TV in New York, suggesting News Corp. subsidize the Post from the television station and position Fox as the proprietor of the newspaper (Lewis, 1988). Within another Times frame, “Murdoch should sell the Post,” the newspaper recommended News Corp. sell the newspaper and end the discussion of whether or not a waiver should be granted. Similarly, the remedy recommended within the frame, “The purchase of the media property is a bad deal,” the Times suggested Murdoch not pursue a purchase that would violate the rules and require a waiver. Through these frames, the Times provided solutions for the problem, demonstrating for Murdoch and the public that purchases that violate the rules could be completed without a waiver. The Journal used the remedy function in similar ways. The “Murdoch has a history of challenging the rules” frame was used to suggest ways in which Murdoch could maintain ownership of both media properties without a waiver or forced divestiture. One Journal document recommended Murdoch move WNEW-TV’s headquarters to a different county, therefore satisfying the FCC’s ownership rules since both properties would “technically” be in two separate markets (Saddler, 1986). Another option offered by the same writer involved Murdoch waiting for the current temporary waiver to expire before applying for a permanent waiver in 1988 (Saddler, 1986). A final option offered by the Journal was found within the frame, “A waiver of the rules would affect the public interest.” This frame suggested arguments News Corp. counsel could use to defend the company’s application for a cross-ownership waiver. The Journal reported the Tribune Company was not forced to divest of properties when it violated the ownership rules and advised News Corp. to join forces with the Tribune for joint ownership of the Post, rendering the question of a waiver moot.
The moral judgment function was used three times while the remedies function was found in five frames. Defining the problem and suggesting remedies to solve the problem were the two functions that appeared most frequently; they were collectively present in eight of the ten frames. As this study has found, each frame was used to present the events of the cross-ownership waiver process in a particular manner. Through these frames, the publications interpreted the events further for readers so they would understand the broader issues involved, including the problem, its causes, moral issues and potential solutions. Exploring the Reasons behind the Frames As noted in Chapter One and Chapter Three, frames are not only shaped by the communicator but by other factors such as a change in events or exclusion of certain information. The frames found in this study were analyzed to determine if either of these potential factors played a role in the frames used in the Journal and Times. 9 Murdoch’s decision to seek a waiver following the purchase of television stations from Metromedia in 1985 was the first event that had an impact on the frames. When Murdoch initially decided to not seek a waiver, the Journal used the frame, “A waiver of the rules should not be an option,” supporting his decision to divest himself of the Post. Upon Murdoch’s application for a waiver, the frame was used instead to criticize the FCC’s acceptance of his application. Murdoch’s interest in being excused from the rules resulted in the Journal’s using the “Murdoch has a history of challenging the rules” frame, outlining his history of getting around the rules and illustrating that his past experience posed a threat to the New York market. After the filing of the application and the Commission’s acceptance of the applications, public interest organizations filed petitions with the FCC encouraging the agency to deny the request. The Journal portrayed these petitions as delaying the waiver process in the frame “Decisions concerning the waiver are being delayed.” The Times omitted details of these petitions in its reporting and instead focused on the regulatory and financial reasons Murdoch should not seek a cross-ownership waiver in the frame, “The purchase of the media property is a bad deal.” Also, the Times began to portray
9 For a visual timeline of the frames used by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, see Appendix E.
these purchases and waiver applications negatively in the frame “Decisions concerning a waiver of the rules are not in the public interest.” The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the petitions was likely a contributing factor in its framing the waiver in a negative light, contradicting the editorial board’s position, which will be discussed in more depth later. The paper’s reporting and understanding of the grievances on all sides of the issue had an impact on the frame, “A waiver of the rules would affect the public interest.” In addition to presenting the waiver as a means to protect the market and ensure an orderly divestiture of the Post, the Journal blamed the waiver for hindering a global company’s ability to expand in the New York market. In 1988, there was a shift in the frames used by the Journal and Times following the passage of Congress’ appropriations bill. After it was discovered the bill eliminated any possibility of Murdoch receiving a waiver extension, the Times began to support the waiver and Murdoch’s continued ownership of the Post with the frame, “The future of the paper is in jeopardy without a waiver/and or Murdoch.” The paper began to frame the survival of the Post as also preserving jobs. This is a significant shift from the negative frame it used in 1985, “The purchase of the media property is a bad deal,” which argued against Murdoch’s buying additional properties and seeking a waiver of the rules. Similarly, after the legislation was passed, both the Journal and the Times began to use frames that portrayed senators negatively. The Times used the frame, “Decisions concerning a waiver of the rules are not in the public interest” while the Journal embedded its opposition of the legislative action in a frame that also addressed the division that emerged between congressmen and consumer organizations regarding the bill, “Decisions concerning the waiver are being delayed.” Upon the FCC’s unanimous decision to deny the waiver request, the Times began to use the frame, “Murdoch should sell the Post,” which supported the divestiture because a waiver was no longer feasible. Murdoch’s appeal of the FCC’s decision to the court resulted in the Journal’s reuse of the frame, “Murdoch has a history of challenging the rules.” The appeal was reported by the Times but did not have an effect on the frames. Throughout the events of 1988, the differences of opinion among congressional members, public interest groups, media companies, and the appellate judges for the D.C.
Circuit surfaced, resulting in the newspapers’ framing these disagreements in reports. Petitions and split decisions by the judges played a key role in influencing the frames. The Times used the frame “Disagreements over a waiver and Murdoch are getting in the way of decision-making” while the Journal began to use “The government and consumer groups disagree on whether the waiver should be granted or denied.” In 1993, when Murdoch showed interest in repurchasing the Post, many of the frames present in 1988 were recycled. Following the application for a waiver, petitions were filed with the FCC against the request. In addition to the varying opinions of consumer groups that resurfaced in 1993, it became apparent the FCC was also divided. The unanimous decision issued by the court to uphold the Commission’s majority decision and dismiss the petitions provided further evidence of disagreement on the issue. As a result, the papers continued to use frames that portrayed these divisions in a negative manner; the Journal continued to use the frame “The government and consumer groups disagree on whether the waiver should be granted or denied,” and the Times returned to using the frame, “Disagreement over a waiver and Murdoch are getting in the way of decision-making.” Furthermore, the Journal continued to frame the decisions being made by the public organizations to petition the FCC and the Court of Appeals as delaying closure in the frame, “Decisions concerning the waiver are being delayed.” During this time, the frames overall were less negative toward the waiver and focused on the petitions and the split decisions that emerged within the Commission. For example, the Times continued to frame the Post as being in jeopardy without a waiver in Murdoch’s favor. Since the Post’s troubles posed many threats for its long-term survival, the newspapers focused more on the disagreements that were potentially preventing a waiver from being granted, the one thing that was believed to be able to help the paper. While both newspapers reported the first decision issued by the Commission, the papers emphasized Commissioner Barrett’s dissenting opinion, which agreed with the petitioners. It’s noteworthy to point out the petitioners identified by the Journal and the Times were not entirely reflective of those published in the FCC’s records. Also of relevance, neither paper reported on the FCC’s reconsideration of the waiver initiated by petitions in 1995. The Times reported on the appellate court case in 1995, but again the
petitioners involved and the judges’ rationale behind its unanimous decision went unnoticed in reports. In 2001, after News Corp. purchased television stations from Chris-Craft Industries, the company applied for two waivers of the rules. The petitioners who urged the Commission to deny the waivers were not identified by the Journal or the Times. Instead, the newspapers focused on explaining the waivers that were being sought and why. The Times continued to frame the purchase of the media property as a “bad deal” for business. In this instance, the Times focused on how the transfer of ownership could potentially hurt the UPN network that was being carried on the stations. The Journal framed the purchase in a similar manner in “A waiver of the rules would affect the public interest,” which emphasized the impossibility of the UPN surviving, since Murdoch would more than likely use the stations to broadcast Fox content. Murdoch’s request for two waivers resulted in the Journal using the frame, “Murdoch has a history of challenging the rules.” When the Commission raised concerns regarding Murdoch’s naturalized citizenship and News Corp.’s ties with foreign countries, the Journal used these issues to again criticize the FCC for considering waiver requests for purchases that violate the rules with the frame, “A waiver of the rules should not be an option.” In 2001, division among commissioners appeared in the final decision. The majority granted Murdoch the two requested waivers and a third that was not applied for. Reacting to this decision, the Times used the frame “Decisions concerning a waiver of the rules are not in the public interest.” Also, the Times and the Journal both framed the disagreements within the Commission in a negative manner. The Times used the frame “Disagreements over a waiver and Murdoch are getting in the way of decision-making” to present counter arguments from public organizations and individuals that disagreed with the FCC’s rationale. The Journal presented the division among the commissioners along party lines as evidence the situation is not resolved with the frame, “The government and consumer groups disagree on whether the waiver should be granted or denied.” In addition to the timeline of the frames and the information that was included and excluded in the newspaper reports, there are other possible explanations for why these
frames were used. First, the backgrounds and different practices of the reporters may have played a larger role. The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have different focuses: the Journal is geared more toward business while the Times tends to focus on public policy and the relationship of the news to the public at large. The different focuses within these newspapers have a direct influence on the types of reporters that are hired. For example, journalists with a strong background in business beat reporting are more likely to be hired by the Journal than by the Times. Furthermore, the manner by which a reporter covers a story is also likely to play a role in the frames that appear in print. The journalists’ different levels of expertise, different contacts, and individuals they use for information are possible explanations for why these particular frames were used. In addition to the varying backgrounds and practices of these individuals, the physical location of the writer can also play a role in the frames. The articles did not provide any background on the reporters and the author did not extensively research their biographies. Determining the location of the journalist before the analysis would have perhaps yielded more thorough understanding of the frames. For instance, a Times or Journal reporter based in Washington, D.C. is more likely to have a heightened understanding of the government and have an extensive rapport with important public figures than a reporter based in New York. Additionally, the culture within a small news bureau is different than the culture within the newsroom at an organization’s headquarters; the atmospheric differences could have also contributed to the shaping of certain frames. This study set out to determine if there were parallels between the newspaper’s editorials and the news stories. While similarities were found, it does not explain why these correlations exist. Editorial boards and journalists tend to be disconnected. It’s not clear what role, if any, the opinion of the editorial board played in influencing the types of frames that were found in the news stories. The role of the section editors and the relationships that exist among journalists and higher personnel who have direct contact with the editorial board were not considered in this study. While it’s possible the editorial board or other high-ranking employees at either the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal did issue internal orders dictating how certain topics or news events are to be
handled and reported, this assumption cannot be made as a plausible explanation for the similarities between the frames and the editorials. Prominence Among the frames used by the Times, one frame was found to be most prominent according to the keywords, phrases, and sources commonly present. In the “Disagreement over a waiver and Murdoch are getting in the way of the decision-making” frame, the author determined this frame used language with strong connotations in comparison to the other frames. In addition, this frame quoted rather than paraphrased the information provided by sources. It’s important to note that the frame “The future of the paper is in jeopardy…” had the largest variety of sources (News Corp. employees, New York City mayor, elected state officials, independent analysts and FCC commissioners); however the disagreement frame most often quoted sources of particular importance, including senators, FCC commissioners, and public interest group representatives. One frame used by the Journal was found to be prominent due to the keywords and phrases used. The “A waiver of the rules would affect public interest” frame used language with very negative connotations in its description of events. However, the sources commonly present within this frame did not play a significant role in this frame’s prominence, since the quotes that were attributed to outside sources tended to be from representatives and presidents of low-profile television companies. The consistent presence of important sources that were often quoted in other frames, such as Murdoch, FCC commissioners, and senators, made it impossible to differentiate the prominence of the frames according to this information. Newspaper Frames and Editorial Positions This study set out to determine if the frames that were present in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times documents paralleled the positions the newspapers’ editorial boards took regarding media ownership and waivers. As noted in Chapter One, the Journal openly disagreed with Murdoch’s newspaper practices (“Free Rupert Murdoch,” 1985). The frame, “Murdoch has a history of challenging the rules,” reflected the negative view many, including the Journal’s own editorial board, have toward Murdoch. The board also expressed support for cross-ownership waivers because they were viewed as being responsible for preserving New York City as a three-paper town
(“Free Rupert Murdoch,” 1985). The “A waiver of the rules would affect the public interest” frame was used to present both the positive and negative results a waiver would have on consumers. The positive aspects within the frame emphasized that a waiver would ensure an orderly sale of the Post, thus preserving the market, which reflected what was advocated in the Journal’s opinion pieces. The Journal also revealed its opposition toward individuals who interfered with the waiver process because of differences of opinion concerning the Post’s content, specifically criticizing Senator Edward Kennedy’s role in the Hollings Amendment (“Ted Kennedy Killed the Post,” 1993). The Journal’s dispute with Congress’s passage of the appropriations bill was reflected in the frame “Decisions concerning the waiver are being delayed.” Within this frame, the paper negatively portrayed the congressman’s actions and presented Congress as an antagonist that unnecessarily hindered the waiver process. In 2000, the Journal supported the FCC’s modifications to the ownership rules, arguing the rules were unnecessary and encouraged the government to remove itself from media regulation altogether (“Free the Media Moguls,” 1993). This is reflected in two frames. The “A waiver of the rules would affect the public interest” frame presents the rules as not serving the public interest because they have resulted in unfair competition and newspaper closure. Another frame, “A waiver of the rules should not be an option,” advocated for the market to play a larger role in media ownership instead of the government. News articles that used this frame made clear the waiver was not the final hurdle, but rather the market, since it would determine whether a media property could survive competition. Not all of the frames used by the Journal reflect its positions, yet the frames mentioned above demonstrate that some do. In Chapter One, the author hypothesized the Journal’s frames would present the waivers as being good for business, the market, and the public interest. This was evident in the frame, “A waiver of the rules would affect the public interest.” The author also expected the Journal’s articles to focus more on the business aspects of the waiver. While this was the case, the paper also focused on the relational aspect of the waiver, the disagreements and decision-making process concerning the requests, which was not hypothesized. In addition, the author’s expectations of the frames being used to present a waiver as the means of saving the
newspaper was not found in this analysis. While the Journal did use the public interest frame to present a waiver as the vehicle to prevent closure, it did not exclusively portray a waiver as saving the newspaper. Contrasting the Journal’s editorial board’s opinion was the Times, which demonstrated a less favorable stance toward waivers. Unlike the Journal, the Times disagreed with the FCC’s loosening of ownership rules or issuing of waivers (FCC’s Ownership Rules,” 2000). Nonetheless, the paper indicated in 2001 that it did support a waiver if it would prevent the closure of a media entity (“FCC Loosens Rules,” 2001). This is reflected in the frame “The future of the paper is in jeopardy without a waiver and/or Murdoch” that advocated for a waiver to save the Post in 1988 and 1993. The Times editorial board also expressed its concerns over media ownership concentration and the negative impacts a waiver would have on the market and democracy. The frame “The purchase of the media property is a bad deal,” paralleled the paper’s concerns regarding the market, addressed the financial issues related to the waiver, and portrayed Murdoch’s purchase of another media property as an unnecessary violation of the rules. The editorial by Senator Ernest Hollings, (D-SC), explained why Murdoch did not deserve a waiver, and was reflected in the paper’s frames. The frame “Murdoch should sell the Post,” reflects the paper’s opposition toward waivers, particularly when a media owner such as Murdoch owns too much. This divestiture frame demonstrates the paper’s concerns about big media companies becoming bigger and producing a more concentrated market. The Times’ negative attitude toward the appropriations bill initiated by Hollings was also reflected in the frames. The paper’s editorial board admitted it agreed with Hollings’ mission to prevent Murdoch from receiving a waiver extension, but did not believe the end result justified the means (“Wrong Even When Right,” 1988). The frame, “Decisions concerning a waiver of the rules are not in the public interest,” portrayed the bill as a demonstration of Congress’s abuse of power. The author hypothesized the Times’ frames would present the waiver request as harming the public interest. Murdoch’s decision to pursue a waiver after purchasing a property that exceeded the ownership limits was presented in a negative manner. Nevertheless, the waiver itself was presented in a positive manner; one frame argued
waivers would save the newspaper, and therefore, serve the public interest (“The future of the paper is in jeopardy without a waiver and/or Murdoch”). The author also expected the Times frames to focus on the social aspects of the waiver, specifically discussing what big media companies were gaining and smaller media companies were losing as a result of ownership waivers. In the frame, “Decisions concerning a waiver of the rules are not in the public interest,” the Times framed the 2001 waivers as providing Murdoch with unprecedented control in the media industry and local New York market. However, the newspaper did not elaborate on the potentially increasing power News Corp. received because of the waivers. In terms of society at large, the community’s losses in terms of jobs were commonly present in the frame “The future of the paper is in jeopardy without a waiver and/or Murdoch.” The concerns of public interest groups, Post employees, and supporters of the waiver were frequently reported by the Times, especially within the disagreement frame. Study Limitations and Future Research Future researchers can expand upon this analysis by working to improve the method used and prevent recurrences of the shortcomings in this thesis. The qualitative approach offers researchers the means to provide in depth analysis and was the best method for this study in order to discover the nuances between the frames, whereas a quantitative method would not have provided such detail. One of the drawbacks of the qualitative method that was explained in Chapter Three is subjectivity of the approach. The potential interference of the primary researcher’s bias with the results would be eliminated if independent coders conducted the analysis. To improve upon this study’s approach, future researchers should identify key sources coders should look for during the analysis. Rather than coders examining all sources present in the documents as the author did, future studies could benefit from a narrower scope by concentrating on the sources that were commonly found in the background research and focusing on how their presence and absence affected the frames. Also, future researchers who use the qualitative approach could benefit from outlining the range of language they expect to find within the frames; defining what constitutes negative and positive language would assist any coder, either the primary researcher or an independent coder, in categorizing keywords and phrases as positive, negative or neutral during the analysis. To counteract
the potential bias of independent coders, future studies could benefit by incorporating a quantitative approach. Future studies could benefit by incorporating analyses of data that were overlooked in this study. During the framing analysis, it became apparent to the author that there were a few journalists from both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times who wrote many of the documents that repeatedly use the same frames. The author recommends future researchers who are interested in analyzing more recent documents to conduct interviews with the journalists who frequently report on the same topic. Interviews would offer insight as to why there is an imbalance among the sources within the articles, particularly in terms of political party affiliation. Did the reporter attempt to interview people on both sides of the issue and in both political parties? Who turned them down for an interview? Who provided information off the record? Did the reporter interview individuals on both sides but choose not to include quotes from one of these sources, and if so, why? The rapport the journalist has with certain sources could explain why sources tend to belong to one organization or political party affiliation. Interviews could also shed light on the reporter’s biases, expertise in the topic, and other journalistic practices. More importantly, the journalist being interviewed would be able to answer questions regarding potential internal orders dictating how the story was to be covered. These details and others could be uncovered in an interview and would further enhance our understanding of the frames. Now that Rupert Murdoch owns the Wall Street Journal, the newspaper has a direct stake in how the FCC handles future News Corp. waiver applications for the New York market. Frames found in future news stories regarding waiver applications and subsequent FCC decisions in the Journal under Murdoch’s leadership would provide for an interesting contrast to the frames that were found in this analysis. Also, future research could examine whether the positions taken in future editorials have shifted from those examined in this study following a change in ownership. If a shift in editorial board opinion were found in the editorials, it would be interesting to know if there are simultaneous modifications to the types of frames appearing in news articles. In addition, future research that examines newspaper reports concerning other media companies and cross-ownership waiver histories will help determine if there are patterns in the positions
taken by newspaper editorial boards regarding these waivers. Patterns in these frames may indicate a culture within the newsroom is responsible for contributing to these frames and would warrant further examination. In an effort to further understand the sources that were commonly found in the analysis, the characteristics of these individuals and groups should be explored more closely. Political party affiliation plays a significant role in how members of these parties approach media ownership, particularly in the Commission and Congress, as was first demonstrated in 1988 with the appropriations bill. These diverse views regarding government oversight vary among political parties and serve as the foundation for how their members approach this policy issue. The author believes from examination of FCC records that Democrats tend to favor stricter government oversight than the Republicans, who are more inclined to allow the market direct media ownership. At the same time, Democrats tend to favor waivers of the rules that would help preserve a media property (Federal Communications Commission, 1993a), while Republicans tend to favor waivers that don’t pose a major threat to the diversity of the market (Federal Communications Commission 1985 & 2001). While the political party affiliations of some sources found in the frames were identified, the sources were not examined according to this classification but rather their professional affiliation (e.g. public representative such as mayor, representative, and senator; or federal official such as judge or commissioner, etc.). This deserves further attention in future studies to determine if the political party affiliation of sources contributes to framing. The characteristics of other sources and policy shapers found in the analysis should also be examined further. The author noticed that race plays a factor in media ownership policy. Based on the scope of this study, organizations that represent the interests of minority consumers tended to be more active in the waiver process by filing petitions that challenged the application and the Commission’s decisions (Federal Communications Commission 1993a, 1993b & 2001; Metropolitan Council of NAACP Branches, et al., v. FCC, et al., 1995; Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, et al., v. FCC, 2002). Unlike congressmen or commissioners who were primarily concerned about the effect the waivers would have on the market, the petitioners tended to be concerned about whether the company receiving the waiver would serve minorities
(Federal Communications Commission, 1985 & 1993a), and whether the decision- making was sound (Federal Communications Commission, 1993b & 2001; Metropolitan Council of NAACP Branches, et al., v. FCC, et al., 1995; Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, et al., v. FCC, 2002). The action and inaction of these groups and how the main concerns of these groups are framed should be examined further. While this thesis focused on cross-ownership waivers for the New York Post and television stations, future studies could also expand upon this study by focusing on different markets and evaluating the frames present in different newspapers or other media. The more research examines the relationship between the frames present in news stories and the position of the media outlet’s editorial board, the more we will come to understand about framing and the media. In addition, studies could expand upon this relationship and examine the effects these frames have on the public, policymakers, and the industry as a whole by analyzing how the frames shape the opinions of these groups. Implications of Results This study affirms that subjectivity in journalism is not a myth since the frames found in the documents parallel the opinions of the editorial boards expressed by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. This bias fused within the frames raises concerns about the effects these frames have on the audience. First, the subjectivity of these frames indicates that readers will understand the situation in a narrow and biased context rather than understanding the situation from multiple perspectives. Secondly, the frames have the potential to unconsciously influence readers and evoke support for one position over the other because of the language most commonly associated with the frames. More importantly, the frames have the potential to influence the action and inaction of readers and policy shapers. As discussed in earlier chapters, commissioners and judges are not the only individuals responsible for establishing media regulations; citizens and consumers play an important role too. These individuals and groups have access to national newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and the news articles that use these frames. The transmission and omission of information, the sources most commonly quoted, and language used in discussing the cross-ownership waivers all play a role in shaping the opinions of their readers. In essence, these frames have the
capability to shape media policy; since they have the potential to influence the opinions of the public and government regulators, they have the potential to indirectly influence individuals and organizations into taking action to help grant or block waivers. The potential power of these frames concerning the public and government at large increases the importance of media effects research. The results of this study indicate a need to further understand the role of the newspaper and other media in our society. At what point do the media stop serving as a mass disseminator of information and begin to define our culture and the laws of our land? How do the relationships the media have with the events and sources it reports on impact this role? In this instance, the newspapers examined in this study have a stake in the Commission’s decisions concerning broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership waivers and the ownership limits associated with these combinations, therefore it’s not surprising these opinions exist. However, it’s important to notice this bias is infiltrating the news. If the topic of the stories were concerning waivers for a different combination that didn’t involve daily newspapers, would frames be used? If so, what would they be? Would the publication be less likely to imbed its opinion within the frame if it were more removed from the situation? More importantly, the potential power of the media to influence the rules and waivers demonstrates the importance of consistency in how the ownership limits are adjusted and waivers are processed. This interference in any capacity reinforces how crucial it is for the public and regulators to be aware and critical of the media. The media may not report on media ownership rules and related waivers with a high frequency of reports and front-page stories, yet the frames in this study indicate that this regulatory issue is of importance. The extensive coverage this issue received in the Journal and the Times is not reflective of the mass media. FCC-related news, particularly cross-ownership waivers, is largely ignored by mainstream media, yet these issues directly affect the newspapers included in this study and other media outlets, including both radio and television broadcast and other daily newspapers. Since the media are subjective, perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise the media don’t cover themselves, but journalists have a civic obligation to inform the public and make them aware of such regulatory issues. How can the media cover “themselves” objectively while serving the public? As is evident from this study, frames are used to assist the communicator in
reporting the news. The frames are used in commentaries and news stories alike to raise reader awareness of how a shift in the rules or an issuing of a waiver may affect their local communities. It’s an issue the public should pay more attention to given the prevalence of media in our daily lives; however, audiences need to be aware that because this is an issue that directly affects the media industry, the news reports should be assessed with care. The frames found in this study represent the importance of an educated public that is aware of how the media operate and has the ability to be critical when it engages with news reports and commentary. Consumers should seek out multiple media sources for information concerning media ownership rules and waivers and should also seek information from other policy shapers, the FCC, public interest groups, etc. Conclusions This study brought to the surface the concerns the applicant, consumers, elected officials, court, and government regulators have about ownership rules and waivers of these rules being awarded to media companies. Each group has a role in helping to shape media policy but the arguments put forth by these individuals and organizations vary on a case-by-case basis. These diverse viewpoints concerning the waivers are present in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times documents. The manner in which these viewpoints are handled in the reports has been determined to parallel the board’s perspectives on waivers, however, further research needs to be conducted to answer the questions this analysis has raised about framing, reporters, newsroom/bureau cultures, and various relationships within the news organizations and sources. This study affirms frames exist and the media are subjective. Furthermore, this study serves as evidence that frames do potentially reflect the communicator’s bias. The frames may parallel the opinions expressed by the editorial board, but future research would assist in understanding why these similarities exist. Regarding the Times and the Journal, this parallel occurs more often than not, influencing eight of the ten frames. Future studies will need to be conducted to determine if this pattern is reflective of the media industry as whole. Since these results were found through a qualitative analysis conducted by the primary researcher, the results should not be interpreted as being conclusive unless replications of this study beyond the Journal and the Times and into other media yield similar conclusions.
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Mayer, J. & Saddler, J. (1985, May 9). Murdoch plans to sell New York Post, Chicago Sun-Times under FCC rule. The Wall Street Journal. McChesney, R. W. (1993). Telecommunications, mass media, and democracy. New York: Oxford University Press. McCombs, M. & Ghanem. S. I. (2001). The convergence of agenda setting and framing. In S. D. Reese, O. H. Gandy, & A. E. Grant (Eds.), Framing public life: Perspectives on media and our understanding of the social world. (pp. 67- 81). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. McFadden, R. D. (1988, February 6). Accord on sale of Post is called imminent. The New York Times, A29. McFadden, R. D. (1993, March 29). Hirschfeld to hand Post to Murdoch. The New York Times, B1. McGregor, M. A. (2006). When the ‘public interest’ is not what interests the public. Communication Law and Policy, 11, 207-224. Metropolitan Council of NAACP Branches, et al. v. Federal Communications Commission, Fox Television Stations Inc. and The News Corporation Limited, et al., 310 U.S. App. D.C. 237 (1995). Molotsky, I. (1988, January 28). Help for Murdoch is blocked in Senate. The New York Times, B3. Moody, M. N. (2008). Black and mainstream press’ framing of racial profiling: A historical perspective. New York: University Press of America. Murdoch affirms plan on papers [News Brief]. (1986, January 17). The New York Times, D3. Murdoch asks FCC for added time to sell newspapers. (1985, June 25). The Wall Street Journal. Murdoch’s attempt to buy post loses inside track at FCC. (1993, May 11). The Wall Street Journal, C16. Murdoch challenging law on cross-ownership ban. (1988, January 14). The Wall Street Journal. Murdoch explores buying Post again [News Brief]. (1993, March 24). The New York Times.
Murdoch files suit challenging FCC ban on cross-ownership. (1988, January 22). The Wall Street Journal. Murdoch requests waiver [News Brief]. (1993, April 9). The New York Times, B4. National Broadcasting Co., Inc., et al. v. United States, et al., 319 U.S. 190 (1943). New law unfairly targets two papers, Murdoch says [News Brief]. (1988, January 7). The Wall Street Journal. News America Publishing, Incorporated v. Federal Communications Commission, The Committee for Media Diversity, et al., Wilbert A. Tatum, Intervenors, 269 U.S. App. D.C. 182 (1988). News Corp. isn’t seeking waiver from FCC rules [News Brief]. (1986, January 17). The Wall Street Journal. Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, et al., v. Federal Communications Commission, Fox Television Stations, Inc. (intervenor), 51 Fed. Appx. 21. (2002) OpenCongress.org. (2008). S. J. Res. 28: A joint resolution disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to broadcast media ownership. Retrieved October 10, 2008 from http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-s2332/show. Open Hopes. (2008, December 1). Broadcasting and Cable. Retrieved January 8, 2009 from http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/159949-Open_Hopes.php. Pan, Z. & Kosicki, G. M. (2001). Framing s a strategic action in public deliberation. In S. D. Reese, O. H. Gandy, & A. E. Grant (Eds.), Framing public life: Perspectives on media and our understanding of the social world. (pp. 35-65). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Patterson, T. & Seib, P. (2005). Informing the public. In G. Overholser & K. H. Jamieson (Eds.), Institutions of American Democracy: The press. (pp. 189-202). New York: Oxford University Press. Pember, D. R. & Calvert, C. (2008). Mass media law 2009-2010 edition (pp. 592). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Petrozzello, D. (1994, September 12). Radio ownership limit inches up. Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved November 21, 2008 http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1- 15817530.html Prometheus Radio Project v. FCC, 373 F.3d 372 (2004) Protecting media diversity [Editorial]. (2002, February 23). The New York Times, pp. 14. Purdum, T. S. (1985, May 6). Murdoch TV deal expected. The New York Times. Rasky, S. F. (1988, January 27). Hollings defends his sponsorship of legislation affecting Murdoch. The New York Times, B24. Reese, S. (2001). Prologue - framing public life: A bridging model for media research. In S. D. Reese, O. H. Gandy, & A. E. Grant (Eds.), Framing public life: Perspectives on media and our understanding of the social world. (pp. 7-31). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Reilly, P. M. (1993, March 25). Murdoch’s interest in New York Post seems to pose dilemma for News Corp. The Wall Street Journal, B9. Reilly, P. M. (1993, March 26). Murdoch to offer interim proposal to acquire Post. The Wall Street Journal, B7. Reilly, P. M. (1993, March 29). Murdoch enters agreement to get ownership of Post. The Wall Street Journal, B8. Reilly, P. M. & Carnevale, M. L. (1993, March 30). Murdoch takes control of Post, approval is likely. The Wall Street Journal, B8. Roberts, J. L. (1988, January 6). Murdoch weighs lawsuit to overturn rule forcing him to shed properties. The Wall Street Journal. “Rules Adopted in the Quadrennial Review Order.” (2008). Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved January 29, 2009 from http://www.fcc.gov/owernship/ Saddler, J. (1985, November 15). FCC clears ABC sale to Capital Cities, Murdoch’s Metromedia-units purchase. The Wall Street Journal. Saddler, J. (1986, January 13). Murdoch appears to be planning effort to hold on to Chicago, New York papers. The Wall Street Journal. Saddler, J. & Mayer, J. (1985, May 8). Murdoch will try to get waiver from broadcast- ownership regulation. The Wall Street Journal. Safire, W. (1988, January 3). Essay: Corrupt Conference [Commentary]. The New York
Times, A15. Salmans, S. (1985, May 7). Tie may force divestiture of Post. The New York Times, D10. Senate defeats measure aimed at aiding Murdoch [News Brief]. (1988, January 28). The Wall Street Journal. Sound salvation: America’s radio business. (1992, August 1). The Economist. Retrieved November 21, 2008 http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-12504671.html Smith, L. F., Meeske, M. & Wright, J. (1995). Electronic media and government: the regulation of wireless and wired mass communication in the United States. New York: Longman Publishers USA. Stuart, R. (1985, December 8). The FCC is easing up on the reins. The New York Times. Suspension, Amendment, or Waiver of Rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.3 (2007). Tankard, J. (2001). The empirical approach to the study of media framing. In S. D. Reese, O. H. Gandy, & A. E. Grant (Eds.), Framing public life: Perspectives on media and our understanding of the social world. (pp. 123-136). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Ted Kennedy killed the Post [Editorial]. (1993, March 17). The Wall Street Journal, pp. A14. Telecommunications – particular regulations. (2001). In the American jurisprudence: A modern comprehensive text statement of American law, state and federal (2nd ed., Vol. 74, pp. 133). Rochester, NY: Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Co. Thorson, E. (2005). Mobilizing citizen participation. In G. Overholser & K. H. Jamieson (Eds.), Institutions of American Democracy: The press. (pp. 95-106). New York: Oxford University Press. Thussu, D. K. (2006). International communication: Continuity and change (2nd ed.). New York: Hodder Education. Tolchin, M. (1993, May 13). Coverage cited by groups opposing sale of Post to Murdoch. The New York Times, B11. van Dijk, T. A. (1991). The interdisciplinary study of news as discourse. In K. B. Jensen & N. W. Jankowski (Eds.), A handbook of qualitative methodologies for mass communication research. (pp. 108-120). London: Routledge.
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APPENDIX A Current FCC Ownership Rules Local Television Ownership Limit A single entity may own two television stations in the same local market if: (a) the Grade B contours of the stations do not overlap; or (b) at lease one of the stations in the combination is not ranked among the top four stations in terms of audience share and at least eight independently owned and operating commercial or non-commercial full-power broadcast television stations would remain in the market after the combination.
Local Radio Ownership Limit One entity may own: (a) up to five commercial radio stations, not more than three of which are in the same service (i.e., AM or FM), in a market with 14 or fewer radio stations; (b) up to six commercial radio stations, not more than four of which are in the same service, in a market with between 15 and 29 radio stations; (c) up to seven commercial radio stations, not more than four of which are in the same service, in a radio market with between 30 and 44 radio stations; and (d) up to eight commercial radio stations, not more than five of which are in the same service, in a radio market with 45 or more radio stations.
National Television Ownership Limit An entity may own any number of TV stations nationwide as long as the group collectively does not reach more than 39% of the national TV audience.
National Radio Ownership Limit There is no limit on the number of stations a company can own.
Radio/Television Cross-Ownership Limit In a single market, one company may own:
(a) one TV station (two TV stations if permitted by the local TV ownership rule) and one radio station regardless of total market size; or (b) up to two TV stations and up to four radio stations if at least 10 independent media voices (i.e., broadcast facilities owned by different entities) would remain after the merger; or (c) up to two TV stations and up to six radio stations or one TV station and up to seven radio stations if at least 20 independently owned media voices would remain post-merger. * Parties must also comply with the local radio ownership rule and the local TV ownership rule.
Broadcast/Newspaper Cross-Ownership Limit Common ownership of a full-service broadcast station (television or radio) and a daily newspaper is prohibited if the station’s service area completely encompasses the paper’s city of publication. • A waiver for the cross-ownership rule is consistent with the public interest and may be permissible when a daily newspaper seeks to combine with a radio station in a top 20 designated market area (“DMA”), or when a daily newspaper seeks to combine with a television station in a top 20 DMA and (1) the television station is not ranked among the top four stations in the DMA and (2) at least eight independent “major media voices” remain in the DMA. • In markets smaller than the top 20 DMA, it is inconsistent with the public interest for an entity to own newspaper/broadcast combinations and such transactions are likely to not be approved.
Dual Network Ban Common ownership of multiple broadcast networks are permitted as long as they are not affiliated with the “top four” networks, i.e., ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC.
Sources: Pember, D. R. & Calvert, C. (2008). Mass media law 2009-2010 edition (pp. 592). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
“Rules Adopted in the Quadrennial Review Order.” (2008). Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved January 29, 2009 from http://www.fcc.gov/ownership/
APPENDIX B FCC Organizational Chart (As of August 5, 2009)
The Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski Commissioners Michael Copps, Robert McDowell, Mignon Clyburn, and Meredith Attwell Baker
Office of Inspector General
Offices Office of Engineering & Technology Office of General Counsel Office of Managing Director Office of Media Relations Office of Administrative Law Judges Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis Office of Communications Business Opportunities Office of Workplace Diversity Office of Legislative Affairs
Bureaus Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Media Bureau Enforcement Bureau Wireline Competition Bureau Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau International Bureau
Source: About the FCC. (2009). Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved January 29, 2009 from http://www.fcc.gov/aboutus.html
APPENDIX C FCC Decision-Making Process 1) Notice of Inquiry (NOI): The Commission releases an NOI to gather information about a broad subject or as a means of generating ideas on a specific issue. NOI’s are initiated by the FCC, following an internal study or an outside request. a) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM): After reviewing comments from the public in response to an NOI or as the first step in the rulemaking process, the FCC may issue an NPRM. An NPRM contains proposed changes to the FCC’s rules and seeks public comment on these proposals. b) Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM): After reviewing comments to the NPRM, the FCC may choose to issue an FNPRM regarding specific issues raised in the comments. The FNPRM provides an opportunity for the public to comment further on a related or specific proposal.
2) Report and Order (R&O): After considering comments to an NPRM or FNPRM, the FCC issues a Report and Order. The R&O may develop new rules, amend existing rules or make a decision not to do so. Summaries of the R&O are published in the Federal Register. The Federal Register summary will tell you when a rule change will become effective. When rules are adopted, they go into effect 30 days after publication.
3) Petitions for Reconsideration: Individuals who are unsatisfied with the Commission’s resolution in the rulemaking R&O can file a petition within 30 days from the date the R&O appears in the Federal Register.
4) Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O): In response to a Petition for Reconsideration, the FCC issues a Memorandum Opinion and Order or an Order on Reconsideration amending the new rules or stating that the rules will not be changed.
5) Public Notice (PN): A PN is issued to notify the public of an action taken or an upcoming event. Comments may or may not be requested.
6) En Banc: An en banc is a meeting of the FCC to hear various presentations on specific topics, usually using panel groups. Specific witnesses are asked to present information at an en banc hearing, following issuance of a Public Notice announcing the hearing. The FCC questions the presenters. Comments and presentations can be used by the Commission when they make rule or proposes rulemakings.
Sources: Federal Communications Commission. (2002). About the FCC: A consumer guide to our organization, functions and procedures. Washington, D.C.: Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 13-14. Smith, L. F., Meeske, M. & Wright, J. (1995). Electronic media and government: the regulation of wireless and wired mass communication in the United States. New York: Longman Publishers USA.
APPENDIX D Articles and Sources Wall Street Journal Abrams, B. & Cieply, M. (1985, May 6). Metromedia expected to sell six television stations to Fox film owners Murdoch, Davis for $1.5 billion – purchase seen giving studio growth markets; Hearst to buy outlet in Boston. The Wall Street Journal. • Unidentified prospective buyers of Post • Anthony B. Cassara, president of Golden West Television • Dr. Tim Johnson, physician who appears in health programs on ABC affiliate WCVB-TV (Boston) • Rupert Murdoch interview with CNN • Metromedia financial data Abrams, B. & Cieply, M. (1985, May 7). Metromedia Inc. agrees to sell 7 TV stations – Murdoch, Davis set accord for $2 billion including debt, will sell one unit. The Wall Street Journal. • Unidentified Metromedia executive • Barry Diller, chairman and chief executive of Fox in Los Angeles • Unidentified executive of an unidentified communications company • Unidentified legal experts • Unidentified sources familiar with Metromedia sale Carroll, J. (2001, January 5). Fox deal for Chris-Craft stations concerns FCC on foreign owners. The Wall Street Journal, B6. • Andrew Butcher, spokesman for News Corp. Comment: Rupertvision [Editorial – Leisure and Arts Section]. (2001, July 26). The Wall Street Journal, A12. Davis, B. (1987, November 6). Move may allow Murdoch to delay newspaper sales. The Wall Street Journal. • Andrew Schwartzman, executive director of Media Access Project • Craig Smith, president of Freedom of Expression Foundation • Mark Fowler, former FCC chairman
• Freedom of Expression Foundation petition Davis, B. (1987, December 31). Murdoch blocked from holding on to 2 newspapers. The Wall Street Journal. • Andrew Schwartzman, executive director of Media Access Project • Unidentified aide for Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) • Unidentified FCC official Davis, B. (1988, January 8). Murdoch battle obscures broader debate over FCC’s policy on cross-ownership. The Wall Street Journal. • Henry Geller, former FCC general counsel • Mark Fowler, former FCC chairman • Craig Smith, president of Freedom of Expression Foundation • Everette Dennis, executive director of Gannett Center for Media Studies in N.Y. • Jerald Fritz, vice president of legal affairs for Allbritton Communications Co • Rupert Murdoch • Stuart Tauber, assistant general manager for WSBK-TV Davis, B. (1988, January 20). Murdoch petition to extend waivers dismissed by FCC. The Wall Street Journal. • Rupert Murdoch • Advisers for Murdoch • Unidentified associates of Murdoch • Joy Cook, union official representing Post employees Davis, B. & Roberts, J. L. (1988, January 21). Hollings dims prospect for waiver Murdoch needs to keep New York Post. The Wall Street Journal. • Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Senate Commerce Committee chairman • Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) • Unidentified associate of one potential bidder for Post • Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) • Rupert Murdoch • George McDonald, chairman of Allied Printing Trades Council • Jerry Cronin, head of Newspapers Delivers Union Davis, B. (1988, January 26). Deadline to sell New York Post set back by court. The Wall
Street Journal. • President Ronald Regan • Rupert Murdoch Davis, B. (1988, March 30). Murdoch wins ruling lifting bar to FCC ownership rule waivers. The Wall Street Journal. • Court opinion • Judge Stephen Williams, appellate court judge for D.C. district • Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) • Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) • Dennis Patrick, FCC chairman • Unidentified spokesman for News America • Spokesman for Peter Kalikow, NY real estate developer Dreazen, Y. J. (2001, July 23). FCC to clear Fox TV-Chris-Craft Union. The Wall Street Journal, B13. • David Fiske, FCC spokesman FCC asks News Corp. for more data in sale of the New York Post [News Brief]. (1993, April 19). The Wall Street Journal, B10. FCC clears Fox TV’s purchase of Chris-Craft Industries [News Brief]. (2001, July 26). The Wall Street Journal, B8. FCC delays weighing plan by Murdoch to buy stations [News Brief]. (1985, October 30). The Wall Street Journal. • Unidentified spokesman for Murdoch FCC grants waiver for Murdoch to own the New York Post. (1993, June 30). The Wall Street Journal, A7. • Andrew Barrett, FCC commissioner’s dissenting opinion • Champion Holding Co. FCC may grant Murdoch two years to sell papers [News Brief]. (1985, October 29). The Wall Street Journal. • Unidentified aide to Rep. Timothy Wirth (D-CO), chairman of House Commerce Committee Telecommunications Subcommittee Flint, J. (2000, August 15). UPN TV networks’ future looks bleak – News Corp.-Chris-
Craft deal is likely to close outlets for Viacom subsidiary. The Wall Street Journal, A3. • Bill Carroll, vice president of programming consultants at Katz Television Group • Dean Valentine, UPN chairman • Unidentified spokesman for WWF • Rupert Murdoch • Peter Chernin, president of News Corp. • Jessica Reif Cohen, analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. • Unidentified News Corp. spokesman Mayer, J. & Saddler, J. (1985, May 9). Murdoch plans to sell New York Post, Chicago Sun-Times under FCC rule. The Wall Street Journal. • Rupert Murdoch • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch • Unidentified sources close to Murdoch • Unidentified adviser to Murdoch • John Morton, newspaper analyst of Lynch, Jones & Ryan • Moody’s Investors Service Inc. Murdoch asks FCC for added time to sell newspapers. (1985, June 25). The Wall Street Journal. • Rupert Murdoch • FCC license-transfer application • Unidentified lawyer for Murdoch Murdoch’s attempt to buy post loses inside track at FCC. (1993, May 11). The Wall Street Journal, C16. • James Quello, FCC chairman • Unidentified members of Council for Media Diversity Murdoch challenging law on cross-ownership ban. (1988, January 14). The Wall Street Journal. • Howard Squadron, News America lawyer • Lawrence Kessler, News America vice president and general counsel
• Diane Killory, FCC general counsel Murdoch files suit challenging FCC ban on cross-ownership. (1988, January 22). The Wall Street Journal. • Lawsuit filed by Murdoch New law unfairly targets two papers, Murdoch says [News Brief]. (1988, January 7). The Wall Street Journal. • Rupert Murdoch • Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) News Corp. isn’t seeking waiver from FCC rules [News Brief]. (1986, January 17). The Wall Street Journal. • Statement by Rupert Murdoch Reilly, P. M. (1993, March 25). Murdoch’s interest in New York Post seems to pose dilemma for News Corp. The Wall Street Journal, B9. • Unidentified industry analysts • Patrick Purcell, News America chief executive • Jessica Reif, analyst for Oppenheimer & Co. Reilly, P. M. (1993, March 26). Murdoch to offer interim proposal to acquire Post. The Wall Street Journal, B7. • Unidentified representatives for Murdoch • Patrick Purcell, chief executive for News America Reilly, P. M. (1993, March 29). Murdoch enters agreement to get ownership of Post. The Wall Street Journal, B8. • Unidentified spokesman for Murdoch • Unidentified Post spokesman • statement by Murdoch Reilly, P. M. & Carnevale, M. L. (1993, March 30). Murdoch takes control of Post, approval is likely. The Wall Street Journal, B8. •Drew Marcus, Alex. Brown & Sons analyst • James Quello, FCC chairman • Joint statement issued by Rainbow Broadcasting, Inc. and National Hispanic Media Coalition
Roberts, J. L. (1988, January 6). Murdoch weighs lawsuit to overturn rule forcing him to shed properties. The Wall Street Journal. • Unidentified legal experts • Unidentified spokeswoman for Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) • Unidentified media analysts • Patrick Purcell, New York Post and Boston Herald publisher • Mark Fowler, former FCC chairman and D.C. communications lawyer • Arthur Carter, former investment banker and current owner of Nation magazine Saddler, J. (1985, November 15). FCC clears ABC sale to Capital Cities, Murdoch’s Metromedia-units purchase. The Wall Street Journal. • Unidentified spokesman for Murdoch • Letter to FCC commissioners from Rep. Timothy Wirth (D-CO), chairman of House Commerce Committee’s Telecommunications Subcommittee • Mark Fowler, FCC chairman • Unidentified FCC officials • James McKinney, head of FCC’s Mass Media Bureau Saddler, J. (1986, January 13). Murdoch appears to be planning effort to hold on to Chicago, New York papers. The Wall Street Journal. • Mark Fowler, FCC chairman • Rupert Murdoch • Unidentified source • Howard Squadron, News America lawyer Saddler, J. & Mayer, J. (1985, May 8). Murdoch will try to get waiver from broadcast- ownership regulation. The Wall Street Journal. • Unidentified source close to Murdoch • Robert Gurss, Media Access Project lawyer • James Quello, FCC commissioner • Standard & Poor’s Corp. Senate defeats measure aimed at aiding Murdoch [News Brief]. (1988, January 28). The Wall Street Journal.
New York Times Andrews, E. L. (1993, April 4). Rule waiver called likely for Murdoch. The New York Times, A37. • Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) • Unidentified federal regulator Andrews, E. L. (1993, May 6). FCC asked to deny bid to buy Post. The New York Times, B8. • Petition filed with FCC by Mahmoud Wahba, owner of Champion Holdings in CT Andrews, E. L. (1993, June 25). FCC split may imperil Post waiver for Murdoch. The New York Times, B1. • Andrew Barrett, FCC commissioner • Unidentified individuals close to FCC Chairman James Quello • Unidentified aide for Chairman Quello • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch Andrews, E. L. (1993, June 26). Panel is divided on waiver for sale of Post to Murdoch. The New York Times, A23. • James Quello, acting FCC chairman • Unidentified aide to FCC Commissioner Andrew Barrett • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People • National Hispanic Media Coalition • Rainbow Broadcasting Andrews, E. L. (1993, June 30). Murdoch gets waiver from the FCC to buy The New York Post. The New York Times, B1. • Unidentified aide to Commissioner Andrew Barrett • FCC opinion • Statement by Rupert Murdoch • James Quello, acting FCC chairman • Dissenting opinion of FCC Commissioner Andrew Barrett • Statement by George McDonald, president of Allied Printing Trades Council Associated Press. (1995, January 29). Court supports Murdoch’s waiver at
Post [News Brief]. The New York Times, A42. • Court opinion Barron, J. (1988, January 18). Koch, O’Connor and Moynihan back The Post. The New York Times, B2. • NY Mayor Ed Koch • Cardinal John O’Connor, Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York • Barry Lipton, president of Newspaper Guild • George McDonald, president of Allied Printing Trades Council • Rep. Bill Green (R-NY) Berger, J. (1985, May 5). Metromedia sells 1 station and talks to Murdoch. The New York Times. • Rupert Murdoch • William Russell, spokesman for FCC • Donald Kummerfled, president of News America • Statement by John Kluge, chairman of Metromedia • John Morton, newspaper analyst for Lynch, Jones & Ryan Blair, J. (2001, April 17). Daily News is interest if Post must sell, Zuckerman says. The New York Times, B7. • Statement by Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher of Daily News • Angela Campbell, associate director and head of Citizens Communications Center Project • Unidentified News Corp. executive Blair, J. (2001, July 21). FCC to waiver rules for acquisition by Murdoch. The New York Times, B3. • Unidentified senior government officials • Unidentified News Corp. executive • Andrew Schwartzman, president and chief executive of Media Access Project Blair, J. (2001, July 26). Two stations, one tabloid, one owner. The New York Times, B1. • Unidentified industry officials
• George Arzt, political consultant, former consultant for Post and WNYW-TV for Murdoch • Unidentified media analysts • Christopher R. Day, lawyer for Institute for Public Representation • Concurring opinion by Michael Powell, FCC chairman • Dissenting opinion by Gloria Tristani, FCC commissioner • Thomas Burnett, president of Merger Insight, a financial research firm • Andrew Butcher, spokesman for News Corp. • Ted Faraone, television consultant Carter, B. & Fabrikant, G. (2000, August 14). Murdoch deal could revamp New York TV. The New York Times, C1. • Unidentified media analysts and network executives • Mel Karmazin, president of Viacom • Michael Wolf, head of media department at Booz, Allen & Hamilton • Unidentified Fox executive • David Londoner, media analyst with ABN Amro Cole, R. J. (1985, May 7). Murdoch to buy TV stations; cost $2 billion. The New York Times, A1. • Statement by John Kluge, Metromedia chairman • Unidentified sources close to Murdoch and Kluge • Lee Isgur, securities analysts for Paine Webber • Unidentified Wall Street analysts • Roy Stewart, chief of FCC’s Video Services division • Susan K. Watson, broadcasting analysts for Morgan Stanley and Co. • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch Cutting back [News Brief]. (1988, January 3). The New York Times, D9. • Unidentified communications experts Erlanger, S. (1988, February 8). Murdoch agrees to sell The Post to developer. The New York Times, A1. • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch • James Norman, part-time reporter and photographer at Post
• Statement by Peter Kalikow, new owner of Post • George McDonald, president of Allied Printing Trades Council and spokesman for Post’s unions • Joy Cook, reporter who heads the Post’s unit of the Newspaper Guild • Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) • NY Mayor Ed Koch • Rupert Murdoch • Timothy McDarrah, Post reporter Erlanger, S. (1988, March 14). Murdoch and his options: Can he retrieve the Post? The New York Times, B1. • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch • Brian Brown, spokesman for Time Fabrikant, G. (1993, March 30). Murdoch’s investors wary of repurchasing the Post. The New York Times, D1. • Drew Marcus, analyst at Alex. Brown & Sons FCC filing by Murdoch [News Brief]. (1985, August 23). The New York Times, D16. • Unidentified lawyers for Murdoch • Unidentified spokesman for Murdoch Gottlieb, M. (1993, March 24). Cuomo called by Murdoch on Post. The New York Times, B1. • Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) • Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) • Paul Donovan, press secretary for Senator Kennedy • Arthur Siskind, executive vice president and group general counsel for News Corp. • Andrew Schwartzman, executive director of Media Access Project • Richard Emery, lawyer for Pete Hamill, editor of the Post • Katherine Fanning, president of American Society of Newspaper Editors and editor of the Christian Science Monitor Gottlieb, M. (1993, March 25). Cuomo joins effort to help Murdoch buy Post. The New York Times, B1.
• NY Governor Mario Cuomo • Unidentified friend of Murdoch • Unidentified representative of unions at Post • William Johnson, deputy chief of FCC’s Mass Media Bureau • Pete Hamill, Post editor • Howard Seif, counsel to committee of Post’s creditors • Michael Connery, lawyer with Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom • Patrick Purcell, president and chief executive officer of News America Gottlieb, M. (1993, March 26). In newest bid, Murdoch offers to buy The Post. The New York Times, A1. • Robert Miller, lawyer for group of Post nonunion management employees • Arthur Siskind, general counsel for News Corp. • Judge Francis Conrad, bankruptcy court • Abraham Hirschfeld, temporary manager of Post • Howard Seif, lawyer for Post’s creditors Gottlieb, M. (1993, March 30). Staff cheers as Murdoch reclaims Post. The New York Times, B1. • Judge Francis Conrad, bankruptcy court • William Reyner, lawyer with Hogan & Hartson law firm • National Hispanic Media Coalition • Steven Gorelick of department of communications at Hunter College and City University Graduate School • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch • Pete Hamill, writer and longtime New York journalist Gottlieb, M. (1993, March 31). Murdoch reserves option of changing mind on Post. The New York Times, B3. • Arthur Siskind, general counsel for News Corp. • Rupert Murdoch • Dewey Ballantine, Murdoch’s bankruptcy lawyer • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch
Jones, A. S. (1987, December 31). Congress adds apparent barrier to Murdoch’s ownership of Post. The New York Times, A1. • William P. Sims, D.C. lawyer who specializes in media law • David M. Hunsaker, lawyer for Freedom of Expression Foundation • Unidentified spokesman for Murdoch • Andrew Schwartzman, executive director for Media Access Project • Steve Klitzman, lawyer for FCC’s Office of Legislative Affairs Jones, A. S. (1988, January 1). Hollings says he originated Murdoch curb. The New York Times, A33. • Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC), chairman of Senate Commerce Committee • Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) • Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) • Alex Felker, chief of FCC’s Mass Media Bureau • George McDonald, president of Allied Printing Trades Council • John Morton, D.C.-based newspaper analyst • Theodore Kheel, adviser to newspaper unions Jones, A. S. (1988, January 5). New York’s 2 senator’s seek to alter rule on Murdoch. The New York Times, B3. • Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) • Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) • Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) • Unidentified spokesman for Murdoch • Unidentified analysts • Zenia Mucha, Senator D’Amato’s press secretary Jones, A. S. (1988, January 8). Moynihan says he’ll offer law to help Murdoch keep the Post. The New York Times, B1. • Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) • Martin Singerman, president and chief executive officer of News America • Lawrence Kessler, vice president and general counsel of News America • NYC Mayor Ed Koch • Wilbert Tatum, chairman and editor of The New York Amsterdam News
• Howard Squadron, lawyer for News America • Michael O’Keefe, Jr., truck driver for Post • George McDonald, president of Allied Printing Trades Council • Jeffrey Gates, counsel to Kelso & Co. Jones, A. S. (1988, January 11). Congress faces new battle on media ownership. The New York Times, A13. • Craig Smith, president of Freedom of Expression Foundation • Andrew Schwartzman, executive director of Media Access Project • Supreme Court opinion • American Newspaper Publishers Association • Henry Geller, director of Washington Center for Public Policy Research Jones, A. S. (1988, January 20). FCC refuses waiver for Murdoch on TV station and newspaper. The New York Times, B3. • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch • Unidentified spokesman for Peter Kalikow, real estate developer • Arthur Cohen, president of Arthur G. Cohen Properties Inc. • Philip Pilevsky, president of Philips International Holding Corp. • Arthur Levitt, Jr., chairman of American Stock Exchange • Unidentified sources close to the sale process Jones, A. S. (1988, January 21). Kennedy backs extension in sale of The Post if deal emerges. The New York Times, B3. • Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) • Rupert Murdoch • George McDonald, president of Allied Printing Trades Council • Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) Jones, A. S. (1988, January 26). Murdoch is given extension of date to give up The Post. The New York Times, B3. • President Ronald Reagan • Rep. Guy Molinari (R-NY) • Unidentified aide to Senator Moynihan (D-NY)
Jones, A. S. (1988, February 12). Murdoch’s lawyers argue for cross-ownership. The New York Times, B3. • Diana Killory, FCC general counsel • Rupert Murdoch • Unidentified counsel members for Murdoch • Judge Laurence Silberman, appellate judge for D.C. circuit Jones, A. S. (1988, March 30). Court backs Murdoch in battle on FCC ban. The New York Times, A21. • Unidentified spokesman for Peter Kalikow, real estate developer • Lawrence Kessler, general counsel for News America • Court opinion • Concurring statements by Judge Stephen Williams and Judge Laurence Silberman • Dissenting opinion by Judge Spottswood Robinson • Andrew Schwartzman, executive director for Media Access Project • John Kamp, spokesman for FCC Lewis, A. (1988, January 7). Abroad at home; Murdoch laughs [Commentary]. The New York Times, A27. • Unidentified English editor for a Murdoch-owned newspaper Lyall, S. (1988, January 14). Murdoch to petition FCC on property rule. The New York Times, B1. • Lawrence B. Kessler, vice president and general counsel for News America • Howard Squadron, lawyer for news America McFadden, R. D. (1988, February 6). Accord on sale of Post is called imminent. The New York Times, A29. • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch and Kalikow • George McDonald, president of Allied Printing Trades Council • Unidentified sources close to the deal • Unidentified financial analysts McFadden, R. D. (1993, March 29). Hirschfeld to hand Post to Murdoch. The New York Times, B1.
• Richard Emery, lawyer for Pete Hamill, former editor of Post • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch • Rupert Murdoch • Abraham Hirschfeld, temporary manager of Post Molotsky, I. (1988, January 28). Help for Murdoch is blocked in Senate. The New York Times, B3. • Senator Timothy Wirth (D-CO) • Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) • Senator Lowell Weicker, Jr. (R-CT) Murdoch affirms plan on papers [News Brief]. (1986, January 17). The New York Times, D3. • Rupert Murdoch • Statement by Murdoch Murdoch explores buying Post again [News Brief]. (1993, March 24). The New York Times. Murdoch requests waiver [News Brief]. (1993, April 9). The New York Times, B4. • Application for permanent waiver • Letters endorsing request from Post employees and public officials Purdum, T. S. (1985, May 6). Murdoch TV deal expected. The New York Times. • John Kluge, chairman of Metromedia • Joint statement by Kluge and Frank Bennack Jr., president of Hearst • Associated Press story • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch • Howard Stark, independent television broker in Manhattan • John Morton, newspaper analyst for Lynch, Jones & Ryan Rasky, S. F. (1988, January 27). Hollings defends his sponsorship of legislation affecting Murdoch. The New York Times, B24. • Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC), chairman Senate Commerce Committee Safire, W. (1988, January 3). Essay: Corrupt Conference [Commentary]. The New York Times, A15.
Salmans, S. (1985, May 7). Tie may force divestiture of Post. The New York Times, D10. • William Russell, spokesman for FCC • Bruce Thorp, newspaper analyst for Lynch, Jones & Ryan • Audit Bureau Circulations • Unidentified longtime Post reporter • Jack Newfield, senior editor at The Voice • Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Murdoch Stuart, R. (1985, December 8). The FCC is easing up on the reins. The New York Times. Tolchin, M. (1993, May 13). Coverage cited by groups opposing sale of Post to Murdoch. The New York Times, B11. • William Reyner, Jr., Murdoch’s lawyer • Petition filed by Metropolitan council of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Branches with FCC • Laura D. Blackburne, general counsel for New York State Conference of Branches of NAACP • National Black Media Coalition • Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to the African People • Roy Innis, chairman of Congress of Racial Equality • Fleishchman & Walsh, a D.C. firm specializing in cable-television law
APPENDIX E Frame Timeline
Frames 1985 1988 1993 2001
Murdoch has a history of challenging WSJ WSJ WSJ* the rules. A waiver of the rules should not be an WSJ WSJ* WSJ* option. A waiver of the rules would affect the WSJ WSJ* WSJ WSJ* public interest. Decisions concerning the waiver are WSJ* WSJ WSJ being delayed. The government and consumer groups disagree on whether the waiver should WSJ WSJ WSJ* be granted or denied. The future of the paper is in jeopardy NYT NYT NYT* without a waiver and/or Murdoch. The purchase of the media property is a NYT NYT NYT* bad deal. Murdoch should sell the Post. NYT
Decisions concerning the waiver of the NYT NYT NYT* rules are not in the public interest. Disagreement over a waiver and Murdoch are getting in the way of NYT NYT NYT* decision-making.
Key: WSJ = Wall Street Journal NYT = New York Times * = Frame present in one document