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McDowell, Adelstein Get MMTC's Top Award

Former FCC commissioners Robert McDowell and Jonathan Adelstein Tuesday shared the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council's Everett C. Parker Lifetime Achievement Award, its highest honor, for visionary leadership in promoting diversity, particularly for their roles in the FCC's 2007 decision to ban ad discrimination, which has been estimated to cost minority broadcasters some $200 million annually.

That came at MMTC's annual Access to Capital conference in Washington, a conference McDowell has never missed, which was pointed out by the awards ceremony host, another former FCC commissioner, Deborah Taylor Tate.

Both men share the honor not only with themselves, but many others. Adelstein gave credit for the American Association of Advertising Agencies for what he called enlightened trade association action that helped make the "intolerable" ban on no urban and no Spanish ad dictates a reality. He said it was a case of a trade association acting in the best interests of its members.

McDowell shared it with MMTC, who has been pushing for the ban for over two decades, as well as the wider civil rights community. He also pointed out that since the ban was adopted in a unanimous vote in December 2007 that included Tate, she, too, shared the award.

In fact, while sharing the award, McDowell suggested that in some way he himself did not deserve it. That was because it had seemed so obvious to him from the outset that the practice should be disallowed. He said he could not believe it when he first learned in 2006 that it was legal for ad brokers to discriminate based on race. Then he said he was even more nonplussed to find a ban on the practice had first been proposed in 1984, but was still not the law of the land.

McDowell urged the FCC to get moving on its media ownership review and diversity initiatives, saying it was "shameful" that the FCC had not completed Adarand studies of its diversity initiatives (in response to a directive from a federal appeals court).