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House Dems Teeing Up Media Diversity Legislation

The House Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing Jan. 15 on bills aimed at promoting media diversity.

Democrats leading the committee say it is because the FCC has fallen down on the job of promoting that public interest goal.

“For too long we have discussed and acknowledged the fact that ownership of this country’s media outlets does not reflect the diversity of America. The data paints a depressing story when it comes to media ownership by women and people of color,” said House Energy & Commerce chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Subcommittee chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.). “Since the Federal Communications Commission isn’t doing enough to advance media diversity, Congress must. We’re holding this hearing to consider legislation that would ensure our media laws reflect the great diversity of this nation.”

Under a remand by a federal court, the FCC is required to consider the impact of its policies on broadcast diversity when undertaking its upcoming quadrennial review of media ownership rules, now an even stronger mandate with the court's September decision to vacate earlier media deregulation by the FCC under chairman Ajit Pai because the FCC failed to adequately gauge its impact on ownership diversity.

The FCC has countered that it did gauge the impact of its 2017 broadcast deregulation on media ownership diversity and found it would have “no material impact.”

It told the court that its conclusion of no material impact on women and minority ownership diversity was reasonable, supported by “substantial evidence,” and was made with sufficient notice of that finding to the public and stakeholders.