NHLA to FCC: Do Not Relax Broadcast Ownership Limits
Do Not Relax Broadcast Ownership Limits Without First Adequately Analyzing Impact of Broadcast Consolidation on Ownership Diversity
WASHINGTON, D.C. -Today, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of the 30 leading national Latino organizations in the country, sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski, urging him to reconsider the FCC’s apparent decision to relax certain broadcast ownership rules without first analyzing the impact that allowing increased broadcast consolidation would have on communities of color and women. Various press reports have indicated that this action may be imminent in spite of new data that indicates persistently low ownership levels by Latinos and other marginalized groups.
In NHLA’s 2012 Hispanic Policy Agenda, the coalition’s signature quadrennial blueprint for advancing the Latino community, member organizations recognized the importance of broadcast diversity. Specifically, NHLA recommended that the FCC adopt “policies to expand and promote media ownership diversity.” Moreover, NHLA member groups agreed to oppose “[broadcast] consolidation as a race-neutral way to open doors for diverse owners to enter the media marketplace.” The Agenda is available here.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition’s (NHMC) President and CEO, Alex Nogales, stated that “lack of Latino inclusion in the broadcast industry has resulted in reckless and false representations of Latinos and other people of color, fostering a climate of hate and intolerance that breeds racism and hate crimes. To achieve progress as a community, we must break away from the status quo and become empowered to fully participate in this nation’s affairs. One important way of doing so is to increase Latino ownership of, and employment in, media outlets.”
Recently released FCC data shows that the number of Latino owners in the broadcast industry has remained unacceptably low in recent years, despite that the Latino population has grown significantly. In 2011, Latinos comprised over 16% of the U.S. population yet only owned 39 out of 1,348 full power commercial television stations, a mere 2.9 percent. Latinos owned only 2.7 percent of FM radio outlets and 4.5 percent of AM radio outlets.
“Given the changing demographics of this country, advertisers of all stripes are trying to reach the Latino community,” Nogales added. “If the FCC moves now without considering this reality, opportunities for Latinos and other diverse people to own broadcast stations may be lost forever.”
NHMC has also taken issue with the FCC’s process. “A couple of weeks ago, while a draft order was already circulating on the eighth floor, the FCC finally released data on ownership diversity,” remarked Jessica González, NHMC’s Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs and member of the FCC’s Advisory Committee for Diversity in the Digital Age. González added, “the FCC has not had ample time to analyze this data and to apply it to this proceeding. In addition, the public has not been given a meaningful opportunity to comment on the data. The data is here to support sound policymaking – let’s not let this opportunity go to waste.”
NHLA’s letter to the FCC is available here.