NHMC & Mag-Net Urge FCC To Consider Diversity Before Relaxing Rules

NHMC, MAG-Net Weigh In On Media Ownership

 Washington, D.C. – The National Hispanic Media Coalition (“NHMC”) and the Media Action Grassroots Network (“MAG-Net”), joined by multiple supporting organizations, filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) urging it not to rush forward with relaxation of media ownership rules without first fully considering the impact those rule changes will have on ownership by women and people of color. A number of MAG-Net grassroots organizations signed onto the letter including the Center for Rural Strategies, the Media Literacy Project, and the Southwest Workers Union.

This letter joins a steady drumbeat of opposition to proposed action that many press outlets have suggested is imminent at the FCC. Specifically, a draft order circulated by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reportedly will relax or eliminate restrictions on certain types of cross-ownership, or ownership of two different types of media outlets in the same market. Late last week, the Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights expressed similar concerns in a letter to the Commission. Today’s letter also comes on the heels of the release of an FCC report detailing the sorry state of media ownership by women and people of color. According to the report, people of color control only 5 percent of full power commercial television stations and 8 percent of radio stations.

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 any action. In its most recent ruling, the Court stated, “we anticipate that [the FCC] will act with diligence to synthesize and release existing data such that studies will be available for public review in time for the completion of the [current] Review [of media ownership rules].” Thus far, the FCC has failed to comply.

“Now more than ever, our communities are starved for news and information that accurately represents the challenges they face, and provides the critical analysis they need to make informed and effective decisions. History has shown us time and again that rushed decisions benefit the powerful and exacerbate the vulnerabilities our communities already face. We hope the FCC will move carefully and at a pace that allows us to participate in a meaningfully and engaged way,” said Amalia Deloney, Associate Director of the Center for Media Justice, on behalf of MAG-Net.

“Considering the data released last week, the FCC should be looking for ways to improve ownership by people of color in the media industry. In fact, they are required to do this, both by a court order and a statutory mandate. It is unfathomable that, instead of heeding their obligations, they are running full speed in the opposite direction and instead opening the door for further consolidation,” said Jessica Gonzalez, Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs of NHMC.

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.

Full List of Supporting Organizations:

Art is Change
Center for Rural Strategies
Community Media Services
Community Media Workshop
Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment
Highlander Research and Education Center
Human Rights Defense Center
Institute for Local Self Reliance
Line Break Media
Main Street Project
May First/People Link
Media Literacy Project
Media Mobilizing Project
New Sanctuary Coalition
REV/People’s Production House
Southwest Workers Union
The People’s Channel & Durham Community Media
The Praxis Project
Urbana Champaign-Independent Media Center
Working Narratives
Youth Media Project