Walden: Hill Needs to Look at OTT Diversity

(Image credit: U.S. House of Representatives)

House Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) signaled Wednesday (Jan. 15) that the government needs to start looking at the employment and ownership diversity of over-the-top content providers.

He was weighing in on the issue during a House Communications Subcommittee hearing on legislation promoting media ownership and employment diversity in broadcast and cable (MVPDs), over which the FCC has authority.

"[W]hile this hearing is a great step forward to evaluate steps that can be taken to promote diversity in broadcasting, we can’t solve the problem without looking at this issue across the media marketplace," he told the subcommittee.

Silicon Valley has taken plenty of shots on the Hill over its own lack of diversity and Walden wanted it to share the stage.

"The tech industry has increasingly become a prime competitor to traditional broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors, or MVPDs," he said.

Hearing witnesses and legislators agreed that access to financing was one of the big obstacles to broadcast diversity. Walden suggested streamers had no similar problems.  

"[B]illions of dollars are being poured into creating more [OTT] content now than ever before, which provides ample opportunity to promote diversity in programming," said Walden.

Walden conceded that the FCC did not have jurisdiction over OTT services, but said those services "nonetheless should be an element of our conversation examining voluntary efforts to promote diversity."

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.