Digital Spectrum Conversion Cover-Up?

Industry news outlet TV Predictions has a commentary from Phillip Swann (2/22/09) telling us that when “roughly 36 percent” of local television stations recently stopped broadcasting ahead of the digital conversion deadline (“stations save money by switching early because they would no longer have to transmit both analog and digital signals”), “the FCC received more than 70,000 complaints in the first two days.” “Based on these developments,” Swann writes, “you would think that the early DTV switch was a major disaster”:

But good luck in finding that story in many of your nation’s top trade and consumer publications, particularly if they are owned by companies that also own local TV stations which desperately want the switch to occur now.

For instance, the Los Angeles Times, which is owned by the Tribune Company, which also owns roughly 20 local TV stations, ran a headline last week that said: “Digital TV Switch Goes Smoothly in San Diego.”…

The Columbus Dispatch, whose ownership also owns a local TV station in Columbus, ran a headline that said: “Switch to Digital TV Met With Little Fanfare.” The Tampa Tribune, owned by Media General, which owns TV stations in 18 markets, published a headline stating, “Digital TV Switch Doesn’t Faze Viewers.”

Citing media news publications’ “historic closeness to the National Association of Broadcasters and other industry heavyweights,” Swann tells why “so many publications seemingly so eager to portray the early Digital TV switch as a huge success”: “In the case of newspapers with ownership connections to local TV stations….their corporate parents have a vested interest in creating the perception that the switch is a success, so by God, their newspapers will toe the line or else.” In other words, “Don’t kid yourselves, folks. Newsrooms do not make decisions based solely on journalistic reasons.”

Listen to the current FAIR radio show CounterSpin: “Brandon Lacy Campos on Digital TV Conversion” (2/20/09)