FCC Broadcast Station Ownership Report Confirms Minority, Women Woes

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Remember those FCC Form 323 and Form 323-E submissions in response to the 2017 biennial ownership report made nearly one year ago?


That filing window, which closed in March 2018, was the first to collect information from non-commercial educational stations about the gender, ethnicity and race of the licensee’s attributable interest holders.

Now, the Media Bureau has collected the data, and with it released its fourth report on broadcast station ownership, which includes commercially licensed radio and TV stations.

The results are telling: women and minority media ownership is woefully small.

The report contains an overview of the tabulations of the 2017 broadcast ownership data presented by gender, ethnicity, and race; a comparison of 2017 and 2015 data in various categories for full power commercial television, Class A television, low-power television (LPTV), commercial AM radio, and commercial FM radio stations; and detailed ownership information in tables, appendices, and accompanying spreadsheets released in conjunction with the report.

It’s a 130-word document, but the results are easily found — and telling of the progress that’s still needed to reach gender parity among broadcast owners.

Women collectively or individually held a majority of the voting interests in 874 commercial broadcast stations.

Doesn’t sound like a lot? You’re correct.

This total is comprised of 73 full power commercial television stations (5.3%) of 1,368
stations; 19 Class A television stations (5.8%) of 330 stations; 76 low power television stations (7.4%) of 1,025 stations; 316 commercial AM radio stations (9.3%) of 3,407 stations; and 390 commercial FM radio stations (7.2%) of 5,399 stations.

At the same time, ethnic broadcast media ownership is ripe for growth.

Hispanic/Latino persons collectively or individually held a majority of the voting interests in 668 commercial broadcast stations.

This total is comprised of 58 full power commercial television stations (4.2%) of 1,368 stations; 45 Class A television stations (13.6%) of 330 stations; 137 low power television stations (13.4%) of 1,025 stations; 209 commercial AM radio stations (6.1%) of 3,407 stations; and 219 commercial FM radio stations (4.1%) of 5,399 stations.

Further, racial minorities collectively or individually held a majority of the voting interests in 416 commercial broadcast stations, consisting of 26 full power commercial television stations (1.9%) of 1,368 stations; 8 Class A television stations (2.4%) of 330 stations; 21 low power television stations (2.0%) of 1,025 stations; 202 commercial AM radio stations (5.9%) of 3,407 stations; and 159 commercial FM radio stations (2.9%) of 5,399 stations.

Ownership of majority interests by racial group was as follows:

  • American Indian/Alaska Natives owned 31 commercial broadcast stations.
  • Asians owned 136 commercial broadcast stations.
  • Black/African Americans owned 239 commercial broadcast stations.
  • Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders owned 7 commercial broadcast stations.
  • Persons of two or more races owned 3 commercial broadcast stations.

The noncommercial station report isn’t much different.

Women collectively or individually held a majority of the voting interests in 401 noncommercial broadcast stations, consisting of 53 full power television stations (13.6%) of 391 stations; zero Class A television stations (0.0%) of 8 stations; 4 low power television stations (13.3%) of 30 stations; 30 AM radio stations (11.6%) of 258 stations; and 314 FM radio stations (9.1%) of 3,453 stations.

Hispanic/Latino persons collectively or individually held a majority of the voting interests in
121 noncommercial broadcast stations, consisting of 5 full power television stations (1.3%) of 391 stations; 0 Class A television stations (0.0%) of 8 stations; 3 low power television stations (10.0%) of 30 stations; 17 AM radio stations (6.6%) of 258 stations; and 96 FM radio stations (2.8%) of 3,453 stations.

Racial minorities collectively or individually held a majority of the voting interests in 109
noncommercial broadcast stations, consisting of 4 full power television stations (1.0%) of 391 stations; 1 Class A television station (12.5%) of 8 stations; 1 low power television station (3.3%) of 30 stations; 12 AM radio stations (4.7%) of 258 stations; and 91 FM radio stations (2.6%) of 3,453 stations.

Ownership of majority interests by racial group was as follows:
o American Indian/Alaska Natives owned 58 noncommercial broadcast stations.
o Asians owned 2 noncommercial broadcast stations.
o Black/African Americans owned 37 noncommercial broadcast stations.
o Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders owned 1 noncommercial broadcast station.
o Persons of two or more races owned 11 noncommercial broadcast stations.

BACKWARD MOMENTUM

Two-year comparisons were also offered by the Media Bureau.

The results show less gender parity in 2017 than just two years earlier in the TV arena.

Females held a discernable majority voting interest, either individually or
collectively, in 73 (5.3%) of the 1,368 full power commercial television stations in
2017 and 102 (7.4%) of the 1,385 full power commercial television stations in 2015.

There’s also a slight decrease in Hispanic ownership in this category.

Hispanic/Latino persons held a discernable majority voting interest, either
individually or collectively, in 58 full power commercial television stations (4.2%) in
2017 and 62 full power commercial television stations (4.5%) in 2015.

Further, racial minorities held a discernable majority voting interest in 26 full power
commercial television stations (1.9%) in 2017 and 36 full power television stations
(2.6%) in 2015.

On a positive note, there are more women who at least have invested in full power TV stations. Females held attributable interests in 89.5% of full power commercial television
stations in 2017 and 84.3% of stations in 2015.

What’s the situation at radio, where individuals such as Carolyn Becker and Mary Quass have served as symbols of pride for those seeking more female owners?

Females held a discernable majority voting interest in 390 (7.2%) of 5,399
commercial FM radio stations in 2017 and 446 (8.1%) of 5,492 FM radio stations in
2015.

Hispanic/Latino ownership of commercial FMs was flat.

Meanwhile, racial minorities held a discernable majority voting interest in 159 commercial FM radio stations (2.9%) in 2017 and 128 stations (2.3%) in 2015 — a positive growth statistic.