Reps seek minority broadcast loans


House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) has been joined by two key committee chairs in seeking help from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner for troubled minority broadcasters. They want to help otherwise sound radio and television businesses in the category make it through to an economic upturn.

Clyburn is joined by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), among others. Also signing a letter that went to Geithner, according to, were Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS).

“While many jobs are at stake, a more important principle — the government’s fundamental interest in promoting a diversity of voices, including service to underserved communities — is severely threatened,” they wrote.

They want minority owned stations, which they put at about 7% for full power radio and call negligible for full power television, to get access to capital, one way or another. They mentioned creating a credit facility such as has been used for auto makers, but specific to this group, or setting up a program that would provide bridge loans.

The reps, along with NABOB, are seeking a meeting with Treasury officials to discuss the matter.

Incidently, Clyburn is the father of Mignon Clyburn, currently the pending nominee for the third Democratic seat on the Federal Communications Commission.

RBR/TVBR observation: The entire industry is hurting, as are many other industries – particularly the newspaper industry. While many in Washington deplore the current state of affairs in the media, there seems to be little or no support for a media bailout. We’ll keep out eyes out for any developments, but we have to believe a carve-out for minority broadcasters seems unlikely. But at least this group of reps can help protect that same group from the sudden imposition of a performance tax.