Open Mike

Knocking on the glass ceiling

Editor: We applaud and concur with your conclusion that "change has to begin at the top, which means that a lot of male CEOs still have their work cut out for them." ("Shortfall," Editorial, April 9).

We take exception to your conclusion that the glass is "slightly full" because about 25% of the pipeline of executives aspiring to clout positions are women, and a few boards of directors here and there have more than a token female on them.

What the Annenberg Public Policy Center report brought to light is that women may make it into the top 25% of many of the communications companies, but that very few ever make it to the inner circle. What's more, the women who have demonstrated the talent and ability to lead, leave. Not just those companies, but the communications business. We continue to see the same pattern: Where there is no past, there is no future for women.

Rather than develop mentoring or other programs that might integrate women into the talent pool that will fill the inner circle, communications corporations continue to turn to the people with whom they are most familiar and comfortable: other men. Most often, in fact, other Caucasian men.

This study sheds light on that practice. That not a single woman—not one—in a major entertainment/media company or a network news company has reached the inner circle of "clout titles." By focusing on the few positive points in the report, BROADCASTING CABLE's editorial effectively absolves those companies from even considering an alternative path.

We are members of a group dubbed, by Radio Ink magazine, "The 20 Most Influential Women in Radio." We have focused our collective clout on creating as much visibility as we can for "the numbers," such as those from the Annenberg report and, in June, from Mstreet. We've created an "MIW" Web site at where broadcasting-company executives can download a template for a corporate mentoring program or where radio and TV women can go to find contact information to network with us. And we hold panels whenever and wherever we can.

We believe one line in the Annenberg report says it best: "It seems [communications corporations] may be overlooking one major resource—women." We would appreciate your support in preventing that practice from continuing at its current pace. That will happen only if men become uncomfortable with the realization that they are doing so.

—Joan E. Gerberding, President, Nassau Media Partners, Princeton, N.J.

Powell's decency duty

Editor: Your editorial of May 14 ("Keeping out") says that Morality in Media has "called for an indecency litmus test for the new FCC" and for an investigation in to "what [MIM] sees" as lax enforcement of broadcast-indecency violations. You also say that new FCC Chairman Powell will be busy enough "without adding an active content-policing function to his job description."

He doesn't have to add it. Enforcement of the broadcast-indecency law (18 U.S.C. 1464) is part of his job requirement, mandated by Congress. Right now, the FCC's record of indecency-law enforcement is a disgrace, and it is the duty of all the commissioners to see that this law is enforced, a duty that apparently only Commissioner Gloria Tristani takes seriously.

Under the new Communications Act, the FCC still has the duty—not the option—to ensure that the nation's communications media serve the public interest. Lack of enforcement of the indecency law is one of the largest unfulfilled public-interest duties on its plate.

Therefore, the American people, through their representatives in Congress, have a right to know the commissioners' views on the FCC's role in protecting the public interest—particularly by enforcing the indecency law.

—Patrick McGrath, Director, Media Relations, Morality in Media Inc., New York

Enforcing indecency

EDITOR: The June 4 issue of BROADCASTING & CABLE contained an editorial which said that "indecency enforcement is discretionary." This is incomprehensible since the FCC is charged by law with the enforcement of the indecency provisions of 18 U.S.C. 1464, which prohibits the broadcast of obscene or indecent material on radio or TV.

Since when has it been discretionary for the FCC to refuse to carry out its duty? If the FCC does not enforce the law, who will?

—Robin S. Whitehead, counsel, Morality in Media Inc., New York

We like letters

BROADCASTING & CABLE welcomes your letters about our coverage or media issues in general. You may mail them to BROADCASTING & CABLE, Open Mike, 245 W. 17th Street, New York, N.Y., 10011; or e-mail them to; or fax them to 212-337-7028. Please include your title and a daytime (work) phone number so we can verify your letter.

Letters should be brief (about 300 words maximum). We reserve the right to edit them for space and clarity. We won't publish anonymous letters.