House Promotes Media Diversity

The House has passed a resolution "reaffirming" its commitment to media diversity, particularly given the power and influence of the sector.

Rainbow-PUSH founder Jesse Jackson has called media diversity the civil rights issue of this generation.

H. Res 549 has no force of law, but expresses the sentiment of the House "to work with media entities and diverse stakeholders to develop common ground solutions to eliminate barriers to media diversity."

Related: MMTC Seeks Investment in Diversity Thought Leadership

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) passed by a voice vote, which means the legislators' positions on the resolution were not recorded. 

"Over the past year we have heard the growing calls for diversity in positions of power and listened to the millions of Americans who know, as we do, that representation matters," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), chairman of the Communications Subcommittee, who were definitely supporters of the resolution. "Now more than ever, it is critical that we recommit to doing all we can to foster that representation, particularly in an industry as influential and powerful as the media."

The "now" could mean due to the racial reckoning triggered by the death of George Floyd or because there are currently so few minority owners of broadcast media properties.

 “We must eliminate barriers to media diversity and provide all Americans the opportunity to engage with more independent and local media outlets that reflect the people of our diverse nation," said the legislators. "Today’s resolution reaffirms our commitment to seeing that done, and we thank our colleagues for their strong, bipartisan support.”

The FCC's most recent attempts to deregulate broadcast ownership were rejected by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals because the court said the FCC had failed to sufficiently gauge their impact on media diversity. 

The Supreme Court will be hearing the appeal of that Appeals Court decision next month.

“NAB applauds today’s passage by the House of Representatives of a resolution pledging lawmakers’ support for working with media organizations to increase diversity within the media industry," said National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith. "NAB strongly supports expanding the diversity of voices in the broadcasting industry, and we believe legislation sponsored by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) reinstating the tax certificate program would create more opportunities for diverse radio and TV station ownership. America’s broadcasters thank Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) and Jenniffer González-Colón (R-P.R.) and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) for their leadership on this issue, and reaffirm our commitment to creating a more diverse media landscape.”

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.