Coalition presses for FCC diversity action


A broad group of minority organizations continues to prod the FCC to action on numerous issues before it of concern to their constituents. They’ve fired off yet another letter on the topic to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a letter that is notable for the names appended on the circulation list at the end.

In addition to a number of minority advocacies, the letter went to four key members of Congress: Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Representatives Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).

The letter details seven specific gripes, published here in their entirety:

* To adopt any of the two dozen proposed noncontroversial initiatives that would give minority businesses an opportunity to acquire FCC-licensed assets.

* To restore minimal enforcement of the broadcast Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Rule, and to assign a compliance officer to the 2007 Advertising Nondiscrimination Rule which, if it were enforced, could restore to minority broadcasters the approximately $200 million every year that they forego because of racial discrimination by advertisers.

* To hold a hearing on Arbitron’s “Portable People Meter” (PPM) audience measurement technology.

* For the fifth straight year since Hurricane Katrina – to act on the Spanish Radio Association/United Church of Christ/MMTC petition to provide for the multilingual broadcasts of emergency information. The September 8, 2009 “FCC Preparedness for Major Public Emergencies” Report did not even mention this critical issue.

* To repeal the 2006 Designated Entity rules that have decimated minority wireless ownership: of the $19 billion fair market value of licenses sold in Auction 73 last year, minorities acquired $5 million, or less than three-hundredths of one percent of the total value of those licenses.

* To include even a mention of minorities or minority business enterprises in the December 2009 National Broadband Plan Framework – ignoring the transcripts from four staff workshops and two field hearings at which the witnesses focused on minority cyberpreneurship.

* To support the only remaining federal initiative aimed at promoting minority and women media and telecom ownership – the telecommunications Development Fund. Nowhere in the Commission’s 2009 legislative recommendations was support for this vital initiative mentioned. In fact, on January 28, the Administration – without consulting with diversity advocates – proposed a budget that would eliminate the Fund entirely. The budget narrative suggested that a proposed loan program and, even more implausibly, the USF are adequate substitutes for this equity fund for new entrants.