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McDowell Questions the Lack of Women and Minorities in Broadcasting

Speaking to an audience of mostly women at the American Women in Radio & Television Leadership Forum in Washington, he said that "the low number of minority and women broadcasters was "extremely troubling" to him, and that he wanted to find out "why that number is lower than in other industries."

Just last week, Republican Commissioner DeborahTaylor Tate pledged to make diversity a priority, pointing out that while 51% of the population are women, only 4.9% of station owners can make the same claim .

McDowell did suggest that the upcoming auction of spectrum in the 700 mHz band being reclaimed from broadcasters would be one way for new entrants to get into the business, a point FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has also made.

Both McDowell and Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, who also spoke to the group, were generally supportive of new delivery platforms as a way to diversify the industry.

Adelstein said he was also worried about the lack of final rules for the DTV converter box program. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration has actually proposed rules, but they are still being vetted by the Office of Management and Budget .

The FCC has asked for more money for DTV education, and Adelstein suggested that education is needed. He said that analog TVs are being "dumped on the market" and bought by people who don't realize they won't work in two years.