Originally Posted on the NHMC Blog, Written by Carmen Scurato, Policy Counsel
For over a decade, the National Hispanic Media Coalition has worked to ensure that the FCC upholds broadcast ownership limits and releases timely data and analysis on ownership diversity, to combat the challenges that keep broadcast licenses held by people of color far below 10 percent.
The FCC is now poised to vote on a rulemaking that would affect both. We are urgently joining with allies to show the FCC that the public cares about media consolidation and understands that it negatively affects communities of color–especially at such a critical time in our national dialogue on issues of race. We must work together to address the challenges that keep broadcast ownership out of reach for our community.
NHMC has been urging the FCC to create policies that improve media ownership rules and media ownership initiatives for more than 10 years. And recently, a federal court emphasized that the FCC must act to fulfill its statutory obligation to promote ownership by women and people of color. This is the third time that the court has told the FCC that its efforts to promote diversity are not good enough. The court also warned that if the FCC does not immediately act to improve media diversity they could “wipe all the [cross-ownership] rules off the books.” These cross-ownership rules create an opening for people of color and preserve diverse viewpoints.
In addition to maintaining these media ownership rules, the FCC must significantly improve its process for collecting and disseminating ownership data to the public in a timely fashion. The 2009 and 2011 ownership data results were not released to the public until November 2012; the 2013 data was not released until June of 2014; and we have yet to see the 2015 data, even though it was supposed to be released prior to the FCC order this month. This is a poor process that frustrates the public’s role in evaluating whether broadcasters are serving the public interest.
The FCC has stated difficulty in collecting the ownership data because broadcasters simply fail to submit it. This is not something that the public should have to tolerate — the FCC should work to enforce its own rules and set fines for stations that fail to meet this requirement. Using this process will show the public that the FCC is serious about understanding why so few people of color own broadcast stations.
Media diversity is at an abysmal low and the FCC must create policies that promote diversity in our media. To understand the current media landscape, the FCC must release timely data and analysis on ownership diversity. The FCC should (1) biannually collect, analyze and report to the public about broadcast stations’ ownership status, commonly referred to as “Form 323 data”; (2) simultaneously collect and report to the public about broadcast stations’ equal employment opportunity data, commonly referred to as “Form 395 data” or “EEO data”; and (3) post all information in timely and easily accessible way online, accompanied by an analysis of the data.
Let’s all work together to support student leaders at Howard in their call for true media diversity.