NHMC, CRS, CMJ Urge FCC To Tighten Broadcast Ownership Limits To Open Doors For Diverse And Local Owners

 National Hispanic Media Coalition, Center for Rural Strategies and Center for Media Justice Urge FCC To Tighten Broadcast Ownership Limits To Open Doors For Diverse And Local Owners Clear Channel Radio Is Just One Example Of How Of Media Consolidation Harms People Of Color

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), the Center for Rural Strategies and the Center for Media Justice, in comments filed with the FCC late last night, is urging the agency to strengthen limits on the number of broadcast stations that any one media company may own in a geographic area. The comments, which NHMC’s legal team prepared on behalf of the three organizations, focus exclusively on ensuring that the FCC fulfills both its statutory mandate and court directives to promote opportunities for women and people of color to own broadcast stations. Strengthening the broadcast ownership limits, the groups argue, is the best race- and gender-neutral way by which to increase ownership diversity. To date, the FCC’s efforts to expand – and even to gain a baseline understanding of – the state of ownership diversity have been woefully inadequate.

In urging the Commission to tighten media ownership limits, the comment highlights two distinct designated market areas that have suffered from media consolidation: Los Angeles and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, a largely rural area situated along the U.S.-México border that is also known as the Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen market. Broadcast consolidation is rampant in these markets, and even though both areas are extremely diverse – two-thirds of Los Angeles and nearly 90% of Rio Grande Valley inhabitants are people of color – broadcast ownership is disproportionately white. The comment, which was filed in response to the FCC’s quadrennial review of its broadcast ownership rules, also illustrates that the FCC may not relax broadcast ownership limits without first collecting and analyzing data on how changes in policy would impact ownership opportunities for women and people of color. “It is clear that such relaxation would violate the Third Circuit’s order in Prometheus Radio Project v. FCC and would constitute arbitrary and capricious rulemaking,” observed NHMC’s Policy Counsel, Michael Scurato. “We care about this issue because broadcast is a hugely influential medium that impacts how Americans view and treat women, people of color, and people from rural areas. How these broadcasters cover stories has everything to do with ownership and employment at the stations – the reporters, anchors, editors, producers and executives who tell and green light the stories. And without diverse and local owners, our stories are not being accurately told,” stated amalia deloney, Media Policy Field Director at the Center for Media Justice. “Geographically, racially, and ethnically, American culture is more diverse than ever before – but that diversity is not accurately reflected in our broadcast media. People of color, who comprise about a third of the U.S. population, account for only about five percent of broadcast owners. People living in rural areas rarely receive broadcast coverage of events happening in their communities. Television news, radio programs and newspaper stories inadequately represent the concerns, culture, and knowledge of people of color and rural people,” remarked Edyael Casaperalta, Rural Broadband Policy Group Coordinator at the Center for Rural Strategies. The comment also lambasts Clear Channel Radio as an example of media consolidation gone wrong, finding that Clear Channel Radio has failed its duty of localism and harmed countless Los Angeles residents with racism and calls to action against vulnerable groups. With headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, and over 850 radio stations in over 150 cities across the U.S., Clear Channel is out of step with the needs of the local communities that it is supposed to be serving, and some of its outlets pollute the airwaves with vicious hate speech targeting people of color, women and other diverse groups. Because of its vast consolidation and offsite executive team, there is a question as to whether Clear Channel can manage local programming and truly serve the public interest in diversity and localism as expected and mandated per FCC regulations. “Earlier this year NHMC published a report illustrating that Clear Channel’s KFI AM 640 in Los Angeles is a hate radio hot spot. Recently this has come to a head with KFI talkers John and Ken calling Whitney Houston a ‘crack ho,’ and KFI’s Rush Limbaugh referring to a Georgetown law student as a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute.’ Unfortunately, these comments are a drop in the bucket at KFI. The Los Angeles community and indeed the entire nation is outraged and disgusted with these pundits. It’s time for Clear Channel to stop trafficking hate. But apparently Clear Channel feels that it need not respond to the communities it serves. This is a perfect example of media consolidation gone terribly wrong, as Clear Channel has become so powerful that market forces are not enough to force it towards corporate responsibility,” stated Jessica González, NHMC’s Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs. The comment is available here. NHMC’s report on American Hate Radio is available here.]]>