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FCC Station Ownership Data Still Bad News for Diversity

The FCC has released its fourth biennial report on broadcast station ownership, based on information from 2017, and the numbers aren't promising for either women or minorities, though the data is now at least a couple of years old. 

The information was collected from full power commercial TVs, Class A TVs, low-power. 

It is the first such report to include information on the diversity of noncommercial station ownership. 

According to the figures, women hold majority voting interests in only 73 full-power commercial TV stations, or 5.3% of the total 1,368. That is compared with 102 (7.4%) of  1,385 full powers according to the 2015 report. The figures were better for noncoms, at least percentage wise, where women held majority voting interests in 53 of a total 391, or 13.6%. 

Hispanics/Latinos owned 58 commercial full-power TVs (4.2%) as of 2017, down from 62 (4.5%) in 2015. Racial minorities collectively owned 26 commercial full-power TV's, or only 1.9% of the total, down from 36 (2.6%) in 2015. The numbers were even lower for noncoms, with Hispanics/Latinos holding the majority of voting interests in only five of the 391 stations, or (1.3%) of 391 stations, and racial minorities owning only 4 of 391, or 1%. 

LPTVs, and AM and FM radio stations. It represents "attributable ownership interests for commercial and noncommercial stations, as reported by licensees, as of October 1, 2017." 

The report is essentially a biennial snapshot of the race, ethnicity and gender of those who own or control broadcast properties. 

Democratic commissioner Geoffrey Starks was glad the numbers were out, but unhappy with the story they told, and with the age of the data, which he called an "unacceptable lag."  

"To effectively address the lack of media ownership diversity, we cannot use stale data and must get better at assessing the extent of the problem in a timely manner." 

"Regarding the numbers," he said, "it is striking—but not surprising—that no minority group is better off in owning more full power commercial broadcast stations than they did in 2015." 

One African American media mogul, however, is trying to single handedly boost broadcast diversity for the next report. 

Byron Allen this week closed on an 11-TV station purchase, bringing his total to 15 TVs, with a promise to spend billions to boost that total big time.