FCC's Starks: Policymakers Must Be More Inclusive

(Image credit: FCC)

FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks has weighed in on the current protests in response to the death of George Floyd in policy custody, signaling that increasing media diversity is one of the necessary responses to systemic racial inequality. 

“As not only a commissioner of the FCC, but as a Black father of two young children who deeply cares about my country and my community, I know that our policymakers must do more to include Black people and other communities of color and create a better world for future generations," he said in a statement Tuesday (June 2). 

"We all have a part to play in the fight for equity and, as a communications policymaker, I take it very seriously. I am committed to continuing to advocate for inclusive broadband access and adoption policies and diversity in media ownership.  

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"Access to robust and affordable broadband allows our communities to call attention to civil rights violations, mobilize and organize for social change, and advocate for policy changes. Similarly, diverse ownership within the media landscape allows us to promote and take control of our own stories. We know there are wider political, economic, and social implications at stake in both of these issue areas. 

"These challenging times are an opportunity to create real change in our country. To do that, now is the time not to just acknowledge the existing inequities in this country, but to eradicate them as we build the future all of our children deserve.” 

Diversity advocates, including Rainbow/PUSH founder Rev. Jesse Jackson, have long argued that media ownership is a civil rights issue because whoever controls the media controls the national agenda, particularly given that African Americans were essentially excluded from access to the initial, free, broadcast licenses and then effectively excluded economically, and via outright discrimination, from those licenses in the secondary market. 

Lack of diversity in the studio as well as the executive suite also prevents minority stories from being told, or being framed and viewed through a multicultural lens. 

The FCC is currently under a standing court order to look at its media ownership deregulation decisions through a diverse lens and gauge their impact on minority ownership. 

John Eggerton

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.