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FCC Report Shows Little Net Improvement in Ownership Diversity

Minorities and women are still underrepresented in the
station ownership ranks and have not made much headway in full-power TV station
ownership in the past couple of years, according to the FCC latest Form 323
diversity of ownership report, which is comparing FCC biennial data collections
from broadcasters for 2009 and 2011.

The report has not been released by the FCC's media bureau
at presstime, but was expected anytime. Multiple sources say it is done and,
according to a source who has seen data from the report, in 2011, women had an
attributable interest in 91 full-power TV stations, or 6.8%, of the 1,348 total
full-power TV stations. That is up from 5.6% of those stations in 2009.

Women make up 50.8% of the population, according to the 2010
Census. Men owned 873 full-power TV stations (64.8%) in 2011, vs. 60.4% in

While it may seem counterintuitive that both numbers could
go up, that is because the other 28% or so of stations have no single owner
whose stake triggers attributable ownership.

According to the new report, racial minorities, which the
FCC breaks out from "ethnicity," owned only 30 full-power TV stations
in 2009 and that number was the same in 2011.

African-American ownership dropped from 12 stations in 2009
to 10 stations in 2011, or less than 1% of the total. Ownership of the balance
of the 30 stations (about 1.5% of the total) was spread among Native Americans,
Pacific Islanders, Asians and others.

Hispanics and Latinos, whose ownership is broken out under
the "ethnicity" category, saw their ownership climb from 30 stations in
2009 to 39 in 2011, or 2.9% of the total. Hispanics represent 16.7% of the
population, according to the Census.

The FCC uses the report to inform its upcoming order
revising its media ownership rules per a congressionally mandated quadrennial
review, an order that is expected to be released as early as next week, with
the 323 report release likely to accompany, if not precede, it. The report will
also help the FCC with its response to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals,
which had questions with the way the FCC under Kevin Martin justified a series
of diversity initiatives.

The report does not get into why those minority ownership
figures have not significantly improved, or in some cases declined. The report
offers up the data, and will eventually almost certainly be turned into a
"crunchable" database as well.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.