US Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) had a few kind words for the FCC’s work on minority issues in recent times, but on the whole, says he is “grossly underwhelmed” by the Commission’s overall track record on the issue. He says he’ll be paying close attention to developments going forward.
Rush said, “Obviously, there is a strong difference of opinion between the Federal Communications Commission and the 23 national civil rights organizations who believe there are serious deficiencies regarding the administration, compliance history and proposed funding of civil rights policies and programs.”
In the FCC’s defense, he was able to recite a fairly impressive list of achievements. “”To the FCC’s credit, its response cites some of its accomplishments including its work on the Comcast-NBCU merger review, its revisiting of key minority-ownership provisions in the Sirius-XM merger, its collaboration with Congress to resolve flawed industry methodologies for calculating and valuing minority broadcast audiences for purposes of setting broadcast advertising rates, and its request for an increase in resources to fund the Office of Communications Business Opportunities and its Office of Workforce Diversity.”
Then the “but” portion of his statement began. He echoed the minority organization’s complaint about the tardiness of the Section 257 report, its lack of action on EEO cases and advertising non-discrimination, and the lack of multilingual EAS requirements.
Rush said, “To date, I have been grossly underwhelmed by the lip-service and platitudes I have heard from this Commission regarding the importance of concluding Commission proceedings, studies, and reports that can dramatically affect the fortunes of minority viewers, listeners, new market entrants, established businesses, and entrepreneurs. Their words aren’t matching up with their actions. I look forward to a more detailed explanation from the FCC’s leadership about what appears to be lack of aggressive engagement and follow through on issues of importance to small and minority-owned businesses.”
In conclusion, Rush stated, “I will also be paying close attention to the resolution of these issues as we review the FY 2012 budget. I strongly believe that the issues raised by the MMTC should be accorded the same attention that the FCC has paid to other high priority items, such as the national broadband plan, and I will be working to ensure that all of the issues outlined in their letter are thoroughly resolved.”
Rush was considered to be a contender for the Ranking Member slot at E&C’s Communications Subcommittee, a job that eventually went to Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
RBR-TVBR observation: As we noted earlier, we strongly suspect that minority issues will have a prominent place in the upcoming Quadrennial Review of FCC ownership regulation. The review was due in, uh, 2010. Not only is it already late, it is still kicking around issues that were part of the review initiated in 2002 (when it was a biennial review), and that review was kicking around long-term issues too. We’re pretty sure that where you live, the “S” in ASAP means “soon,” but we have to think that for those who work in Washington, “slow” or “sludgy” are a much better guesses.