Group of groups wants ownership review to focus on diversity


David HonigThe Diversity and Competition Supporters, an advocacy partnership spearheaded by the Minority Media and Telecommunication Council, has asked the FCC to use the quadrennial review to improve woeful levels of SDB media ownership. It opposes relaxed television duopoly rules, but is not opposed to cross-ownership easements.

DCS is particularly interested in seeing the FCC act on a long list of proposals designed to increase minority and SDB (socially-disadvantaged business) participation in the communications field. Its proposals involve finding SDB access to capital, having the FCC work with Congress to restore minority tax certificates to encourage sales of assets to SDBs, development of incubator programs, and many other ideas.

The group’s ideas about consolidation are all focused on its direct relationship to minority ownership levels. For example, it supports waivered relaxation of radio caps in instances where the company in question takes actions that incubate SDB business start-ups, including things like donating stations, offering operational experience via an LMA-type agreement, or offering operational experience on a digital side channel.

DCS noted that the FCC did not propose further relaxing television duopoly rules. It said it should hold to that course “…because relaxation of the rule will continue to deter the growth of minority and female ownership in the broadcast industry.”

The group noted that cross-owned combinations do not appear to have a negative effect on minority ownership, so they have no reason to oppose them. It said in general it would prefer for a newspaper organization rather than a “widget” corporation to run a broadcast station due to its inherent understanding of the journalism business.

MMTC’s David Honig wrote the group’s conclusion. He said, “It is time for the Commission to take bold steps to reverse the decline in minority and female ownership in broadcasting. This quadrennial review presents an occasion to do so. The paucity of diversity in the broadcast industry has only been compounded by a perilous economy, harmful Commission policies – whether intended or not – and the agency’s inattention thus far to dozens of proposed initiatives that would advance minority and female ownership. However, DCS believes that a movement to improve diversity of media ownership is afoot. We remain steadfast in our dedication to work with the Commission to devise the most effective methods to increase diverse participation in our communications industries.”