Minority Organizations Want FCC to Vote on Ownership Proposals

A collection of 23 minority-targeted organizations have
asked the FCC to get off the stick and vote on some of the "dozens"
of minority ownership proposals that have been put in front of it.

That came in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, with copies sent to
key legislators and filed as comments in various open FCC dockets. They gave the
chairman a shout-out, but had more than one bone to pick.

"From your eloquent letter of January
5, 2010 to Henry Rivera, Chair of the Advisory Committee on
Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age, we know that youshare our concern for the fact that minority ownership and employment in
our industries are de minimis and in many respects nearing extinction," they

But they also criticized the FCC for not including "even a mention of
minorities or minority business enterprises" in its December National
Broadband Plan update.

The letter pointed out that the commission has a triennial obligation to report
to Congress "identifying and eliminating...market entry barriers for
entrepreneurs and other small businesses..." Actually, it pointed out that
the commission has yet to release its 2009 report, which the groups suggest
would have to include that the commission has not voted on any of
"dozens" of proposals, including ones endorsed by the FCC's own
Diversity Committee.

They said they wanted the chairman to vote on "several" of those
"long-pending, fully briefed and virtually unopposed proposals."

Led by the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, the groups, which
included the NAACP, the Urban League, Rainbow PUSH, La Raza, the Spanish
Broadcasters Association and the National Association of Black Owned
Broadcasters, ticked off items it said the commission failed to take up in 2009
(five months of which were under the new chairman).

They included 1) holding a hearing on Arbitron's Portable People Meters, which
have been criticized for undercounting minorities; 2) even "minimal"
enforcement of broadcast EEO rules or assigning a compliance officer to enforce
the FCC's 2007 Advertising Nondiscrimination Rule, which they argue could equal
$200 million annually in advertising revenues not available to minority
broadcasters because of racial discrimination; 3) repealing the Designate
Entity rules they say led to minorities getting only $5 million worth of
spectrum in the $19 spectrum billion auction. 

"We understand their concern and welcome their input," said
Thomas Reed, director of the FCC's Office of Communications Business
Opportunities, in response. "We share their commitment to a diversity of
participants and viewpoints at every level in the communications industry, and
closer to home, our own decision-making process."

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.