FCC Chairman Kevin Martin used a Washington symposium Friday by Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to promote his idea that DTV multichannels provide a way to increase minority involvement in media. His idea, which hasn’t yet gathered support from other commissioners, is that minorities would be able to lease digital channels from existing broadcasters to increase the diversity of programming in local markets. Martin also pressed the idea that his cable a la carte proposal, unbundling cable programming offerings, would increase opportunities for minorities. Meanwhile, at the same conference, Jackson himself and the two Democrats on the FCC, Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, pressed for creation of a minority media task force to draw up recommendations before the FCC takes any new action on ownership rules.
RBR observation: Leasing DTV channels to minorities, or anyone for that matter, doesn’t really require FCC action. It can be done today and it sounds like a pretty good idea to us. As for Martin’s claim that a la carte will increase minority opportunities in cable, the minorities who already operate cable channels say just the opposite – that a la carte will put them out of business. We would agree with them that Martin has the economic reality backward on this issue.