FCC Announces Plans to Marginalize Voices of Color Disproportionately Impacted by Proposals Allowing Rampant Media Consolidation, Gutting of Lifeline Program

For Immediate Release: October 26, 2017
Contact: Jareyah Bradley, jareyah@balestramedia.com, 908-242-4822

FCC Announces Plans to Marginalize Voices of Color Disproportionately Impacted by Proposals Allowing Rampant Media Consolidation, Gutting of Lifeline Program

Draft Order Eliminating Rules Preventing Further Corporate Consolidation of News Sources Circulated by the FCC, and Proposal to Gut the Lifeline Program, at Nov. 16 Open Meeting

Today, the Federal Communications Commission released a draft order eliminating several media ownership rules limiting cross-ownership of newspapers, radio and TV stations in the same market, and limiting the number of radio and TV stations that one can own in the same market. The FCC also released its plan to drastically alter the Lifeline Program by eliminating key provisions that make it possible for providers to continue to participate or join, and extend modest discounts for phone and Internet service to the millions of Americans who qualify. A budget cap for the Lifeline Program has also been proposed by the FCC, as well as a Notice of Inquiry asking about imposing a benefit limit, despite the strong likelihood that these changes will worsen the digital divide that the agency pledged to confront.

Addressing the FCC’s Order to roll back the media ownership rules upheld in 2016,  Carmen Scurato, director of policy at legal affairs at the National Hispanic Media Coalition said:

“This FCC’s draft decision to eliminate media ownership limits is a disservice and injury to media owners of color who will be further crowded out by rampant media consolidation. Instead of finding solutions to address the shockingly low levels of broadcast ownership diversity and conducting court-mandated studies, the FCC chose to ignore the facts and the law, once again favoring corporate interests at the expense of local and diverse voices.”

For over a decade, the National Hispanic Media Coalition has called for the FCC to immediately provide timely data and analysis about the effect of media ownership limits to combat the challenges that keep broadcast licenses held by people of color far below 10 percent at a time when over a third of Americans are people of color.

On the plan to eliminate provisions of the Lifeline Program that have brought phone and Internet service within reach for millions, Carmen Scurato, director of policy at legal affairs at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, added:

“Chairman Pai’s proposal will irreparably harm the Lifeline Program, which has given our nation’s poorest families access to affordable communications and–with it–a critical pathway out of poverty. Simply put, imposing a budget cap and suggesting to impose benefit limit will ensure that Americans who qualify will not be able to receive the discounts they need to obtain or keep the phone and Internet service that allows traditionally underserved communities to participate in our economy, democracy and society. The Chairman’s plan for Lifeline is nothing more than a plan to further widen the digital divide.”

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The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is the media watchdog for the Latino community, ensuring that we are fairly and consistently represented in news and entertainment and that our voices are heard over the airwaves and on the internet.

We exist to challenge executives and influencers throughout the entertainment and news industry to eliminate barriers for Latinos to express themselves and be heard through every type of medium. NHMC works to bring decision-makers to the table to open new opportunities for Latinos to create, contribute and consume programming that is inclusive, free from bias and hate rhetoric, affordable and culturally relevant.

Receive real-time updates on Facebook, Twitter @NHMC and Instagram @NHMC_org.

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