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Minority Broadcasters Issue Road Map for Media Diversity

Minority broadcasters issued a laundry list of proposals in the form of a "Road Map for Telecommunications Policy," which they called “a way from here to there” -- there being the desegregation of the industry.

"This Road Map for Telecommunications Policy seeks nothing less than the complete eradication of racial discrimination and its present effects from the nation’s most influential and important industries -- mass media and telecommunications," the document proclaimed.

The road map includes pushing for more minority commissioners and staff; asking Congress to give the Federal Trade Commission the power to prohibit racial discrimination in advertising; opposing cable a la carte; and calling for an investigation into radio ratings (specifically the Portable People Meter).

The Minority Media & Telecommunications Council released the document Monday morning in advance of its annual Access to Capital & Telecom Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., which will play host to a majority of FCC commissioners -- at least four out of five, with chairman Kevin Martin the only question mark.

The MMTC said the document was the result of six months of work, headed up by former FCC commissioner Henry Rivera.

The FCC already adopted a number of diversity initiatives, many requested by the MMTC, as part of its attempt to wrap up the years-long review of its media-ownership rules. But the broadcasters want more and are clearly aiming high.

Among the other agenda items:

1) An annual diversity census conducted by the FCC on equal opportunity employment, procurement, transactions and advertising.

2) A K-12 media literacy program.

3) The new administration should consider establishing a cabinet-level Department of Telecommunications.

The MMTC singled out Republican commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate as having a long record of civil-rights achievement and called the commission's Dec. 18 vote to adopt a number of diversity initiatives a "breakthrough." But the group said the FCC needs to take the next step to "fully desegregate the media and telecommunications industries."

John Eggerton
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.