MMTC weighs in on nondiscriminatory advertising

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The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council gave an enthusiastic endorsement to the FCC’s license application stipulation that asks radio and television licensees to certify that they do not participate in no-urban/no-Spanish dictates as a condition of renewal.


The organization said, “The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council commends the Federal Communications Commission for today’s Advertising Nondiscrimination Enforcement Advisory, and for the designation of a senior member of the Media Bureau’s staff to act as a compliance officer for the Broadcast Advertising Nondiscrimination Rule – the first new federal civil rights mandate since 1977 and the only one ever adopted without opposition.”

MMTC’s David Honig added, “With strong enforcement, these actions by the Federal Communication Commission will finally bring to an end the practice of some advertisers’ refusal to buy time on stations because they serve African American or Hispanic audiences. ’No urban’ and ‘no Spanish’ dictates drain away an estimated $200 million a year from minority broadcasters. By enforcing the Advertising Nondiscrimination Rule and eradicating these discriminatory practices, the FCC will help minority stations garner a 5-to-10-percent increase in revenue. Today’s announcement is a huge step forward for minority broadcasters and for the nation.”

RBR-TVBR observation: We would like to make it perfectly clear that we have no objection to enforcing the regulations combating advertising discrimination. We just think this is an agency/advertiser problem, not a station problem, making the license renewal process a curious place to start.

The station is the venue. It is home to advertising traffic – but it doesn’t choose the traffic. This is like saying it is the responsibility of a street to monitor and identify jaywalkers.

It seems to us that the only way to effectively catch those employing the dictates is for stations which believe they are being bypassed to document the evidence and make their case. It will STILL be a hard case to prove, since the case will have to be strong enough to prove intent, combined with the fact that it will be the rare contract that actually includes a smoking gun clause in it. But that is where the focus should be.