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Diversity Divergence

Executives from the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters have met with Federal Communications Commission officials about the incentive auctions and want the FCC to structure them so minority station owners are encouraged to stay in the business.

The FCC has delayed a vote on ownership rule revisions while it vets comments on a report that found little improvement in minority and female ownership.

In the meetings, held last month, according to FCC documents, NABOB executive director James Winston asked commission officials to “include specific policies in the auction process that encourage minority licensees to retain all or a portion of their spectrum.”

That could work against the FCC’s interests, however. While the major stations in large markets are not expected to put their spectrum up for auction, the smaller stations in those urban markets, more likely owned by minorities, are the ones the FCC may be eyeing, particularly since their exit price is likely less than stations with larger shares of the ad pie.

Taking the other side of the issue was the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, which told the FCC in its own meeting it wants the commission to consider providing bidding credits and other incentives for minorities and women to participate in the auctions. In fact, it said, the FCC’s spectrum proposal was deficient for not seeking comment on those issues.

“The FCC has been on the record for many years saying that minority ownership is intertwined with diversity,” the MMTC said, according to FCC documents. “It is inappropriate to separate diversity issues from these major proceedings.”