NHMC To FCC: Auction Likely To Decrease Diversity

The National Hispanic Media Coalition has advised the FCC to monitor station sales in the run-up to the incentive auction and be ready to deal with the auctions potential impact on diversity, which it says will not be good.

That is according to documents filed with the FCC.

In a meeting last week with FCC staffers for Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, Alex Nogales, president of NHMC, said he thought the auctions would reduce the number of minorities and women who own TV stations, both via the lure of the payout in the auction or from spectrum speculators in advance of the auction.

The FCC will be looking for spectrum primarily in urban markets and most likely from independent stations since major market affiliates have mostly signaled they are staying in the business. In those major markets, those independent stations the FCC is most likely to woo are also more likely to be owned by minorities and women and with programming targeted to diverse audiences.

He also pointed out that low-power stations are not protected from interference and may be forced off the air in repacking with no payment or recourse.

He said the commission needs to be ready to deal with consequences, collect data on the attributes of those exiting the market and report back on the impact on diversity.

The FCC is already scheduled to conduct a study on the impact of media ownership policies on Hispanic media ownership, one of the last directives of former acting chair Mignon Clyburn.

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.