FCC Allegedly Poised To Relax Media Ownership Limits Despite Evidence That Such Action Would Reduce Ownership Opportunities for Women and People Of Color
Washington, D.C. – Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a report detailing ownership of broadcast media outlets by women and people of color. The report shows that broadcast ownership by women and people of color continues to remain excruciatingly low. At the same time, multiple press outlets revealed that FCC Chairman Genachowski has circulated a draft order to other FCC commissioners that would relax key media ownership rules, further reducing opportunities for diverse ownership.
According to this data, the number of Latino-owned media outlets is dismal, especially in light of the fact that Latinos make up over 16% of the U.S. population. In 2011, Latinos only owned 39 out of 1,348 full power commercial television stations, a mere 2.9 percent. Latinos owned only 2.7 percent of FM radio outlets. Latinos didn’t fare much better in AM radio, once thought to be a key entry point for people of color, owning only 172 AM radio stations out of 3,830, or 4.5 percent. Ownership by women, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Indians was similarly bleak.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (“NHMC”) has long contended that elimination or relaxation of media ownership rules would make it even more difficult for diverse voices to participate in media. Further, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has twice ordered the FCC to collect and analyze data on the impact of any rule changes on ownership by women and people of color prior to changing the media ownership rules. In March of this year, NHMC filed comments with the Center for Media Justice and the Center for Rural Strategies, advocating for the FCC to tighten media ownership rules to create more opportunities for diverse ownership.
“I commend the FCC for releasing this data, but it is a day late and a dollar short. The data alone does not account for the impacts that proposed rule changes would have on ownership by woman and people of color. If this data shows anything, it is that current media owners do not reflect the diversity of this country. And at a time when media conglomerates like Clear Channel Radio are profiting handsomely from hate speech against women and people of color, it is deplorable that the FCC would even consider relaxing rules in a way to make it easier for Clear Channel to push its discriminatory vitriol to even more stations on the radio dial,” said Jessica Gonzalez, NHMC’s Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs. Earlier this year NHMC released an exposé into the hate speech that pervades many Clear Channel stations, and how the company has leveraged its vast media empire to silence intense public outcry against some of its more infamous pundits.