FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said that an oblique FCC approach was necessary as the agency works with the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and others on the problem of no-urban and no-hispanic dictates. He also discussed the challenges of increasing diversity of ownership in communications, and briefly, PPM.
On NUDs and NHDs, McDowell said, “Our enforcement of this rule is rather indirect because the Commission does not have authority over advertisers or media buyers themselves. Instead, we must work through broadcasters, relying upon them to act appropriately and to alert us – or other entities, like NABOB – when they encounter problematic solicitations. But rather than wait for such reports, I have actively encouraged compliance with the ban in meetings with advertising executives on Madison Avenue and elsewhere to discuss the matter. I’ve also been monitoring the advertising industry’s ongoing efforts, with the indispensible help of experts like Sherman Kizart, to address problems and create a culture in which ‘no urban/no Spanish’ advertising practices cannot flourish.”
He indicated his support of initiative to support “eligible entities” for FCC license ownership. He said he realizes people would like to make the definition for such owners more specific than the SBA definition in use. He indicated his support for Congress to reinstate the tax certificate program. He said his colleague Michael Copps is currently heading up a study of just how specific the FCC can make diversity initiatives and still survive court scrutiny.
McDowell said he has followed the PPM case with interest, but is among those who feels that the matter is not within the FCC’s jurisdiction. He said NABOB and others were taking the right course in making their case before Congress and “various Attorneys General.”
RBR-TVBR observation: All of these areas of concern are difficult to regulate. It’s easy to see that NUDs are wrong. It’s difficult to devise a way to prevent them. It’s easy to see that current levels of minority and female ownership are entirely inadequate. It’s difficult to devise a way to turn that around.
McDowell realizes the need for change, and he also realizes the futility of taking a direct head-on regulatory approach that will be blown to smithereens by the first court that gets it in its sights.
So going ahead, McDowell may well serve as a valuable sea anchor for his Democratic colleagues, pointing out when their well-intentioned regulatory remedies may be going too far and helping to craft something on the cutting edge of what will help solve the targeted problem while also making it through the courts.