Is the release of the long-awaited Future of Media Report at hand? Since January 2010, the FCC has been studying the Future of Media, a study conducted by a Special Advisor to the FCC Chairman who was appointed in November 2009. The study was to provide important research and analysis of how broadcasting and other media are serving the needs of local communities, particularly in light of changes in the media landscape brought about by new technologies. FCC Commissioners have suggested that these findings will influence the Commission's decisionmaking in the open proceedings on localism and on the possible revision of the multiple ownership rules - localism pending for over three and a half years, and the ownership proceeding beginning last year with a Notice of Inquiry. The Future of Media Report was supposed to have been released by the end of last year, but that date was missed, with several promises that it would be released soon. According to the Broadcasting and Cable website, it looks like the Report will be detailed at the FCC's open meeting on Thursday - though even after reading the FCC's Public Notice of the topics to be discussed at that meeting released last week, many observers (including this one) totally missed that announcement.
Why was the announcement of such an important proceeding missed? Perhaps because the reference to it is buried in the Public Notice. Most items to be discussed at an FCC meeting are listed in bold type, with the FCC Bureau or Office that will be presenting the item clearly stated. In the notice about this week's meeting, there are two items listed - one dealing with Wireline tariffs, and the other from the International Bureau dealing with satellite frequency use. But, hidden in some introductory language was the statement:
The meeting will include a presentation by the working group on the impact of technology on the information needs of communities.
There is no reference to the "Future of Media" study. This presentation was not listed as a separate item. There is just that one sentence to alert us that there will be a presentation. Does this mean, as the press reports suggest, that we will at last see the report? Or will we just get a presentation about the report (which has happened in the past), or a presentation with a promise that we'll see the report at some point in the future? We'll see on Thursday - so stay tuned for what may be a most interesting and important discussion.