Civil rights leaders want task force


Concerned that further media consolidation will make it even harder to address the lack of minority presence among the nation’s broadcast license holders, a coalition of 21 groups has fired off letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (R) asking for "an independent task force to study the media diversity crisis before moving forward with any new media ownership rules. They said that an "uninformed rush to eliminate ownership limits may set back the expansion of minority ownership by a generation and leave us little recourse."

The group is not impressed with FCC action thus far. "The Commission already labors under a credibility deficit on this issue. Minority ownership is in crisis precisely because the FCC has long neglected to consider the issue as a critical public policy goal. The frustration is not limited to our community. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals admonished the FCC for failing to address the issue of minority ownership."

They said that a task force should be established, and its first act should be to get an accurate picture of the true minority and female ownership situation. Then it should work on improving those numbers. Only then should the FCC feel free to consider further deregulation.

"The legacy of race and gender discrimination in the broadcast industry is a disgraceful reality in America today. It is not a problem that will be solved quickly or easily. But we must take the first step by truly understanding the nature and scope of our present crisis. History will not excuse ignorance as a justification for policies that further depress the level of minority ownership. We ask that the Commission take adequate steps to ensure that it makes the right choices to reach a long overdue justice on the issue of minority ownership in the broadcast media."

|Civil rights coalition members |
Rainbow PUSH
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Council of La Raza
Asian American Justice Center
Hip Hop Caucus
National Congress of Black Women
Native Public Media
National Institute for Latino Policy
Urban League
Industry Ears
League of United Latin American Citizens
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Association of Hispanic Journalists
Independent Spanish Broadcasters Association
Black Leadership Forum
Cuban American National Council
Latino Literacy Now
National Association of Hispanic Publications
National Association of Latino Independent Producers
Latino Gerontological Center
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

RBR/TVBR observation: If the FCC needs to outsource its most basic responsibilities, why bother to have the Commission at all? And don’t put all of the blame on the FCC for the reduction in minority ownership. It was the US Congress that scrapped the minority tax certificate program, over the objections of the FCC and most broadcasters – indeed, most thinking people.