Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.): “As a former radio station owner in rural Oregon, I know well that our local broadcasters are often Americans’ primary source of local news, particularly in rural areas. To ensure every American has an opportunity to be served content relevant for all identities, Congress must act to bring our media ownership laws into the 21st century, create policies to incentivize new entrants into the marketplace, and help lift voices of underrepresented individuals by promoting diversity where it matters most: ownership.”
Armstrong Williams: “The Nexstar-Tribune merger presents a similar opportunity to advance minority ownership and opportunity, and the FCC DOJ should take full advantage of the chance.”
Wheeler aide Jessica Almond says that it’s possible minority and LPTV owners may sell their spectrum in the upcoming auction, but there are other means available to promote diversity in ownership and programming.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn say the commission’s revised JSA policy is working to protect competition and diversity in local TV markets, resulting in “real and replicable progress of which the broadcast industry should take note.”
The FCC chairman’s contention that eliminating joint sales agreements will open up new opportunities for minority and women to become TV station owners ignores the fact that TV broadcasting is no longer a business for small operators, regardless of their gender or color. It’s a business for behemoths with negotiating clout. On the other hand, if Wheeler called off the incentive auction tomorrow, there would be all kinds of TV stations available for all kinds of buyers, including minorities and women.
“One of the results [of the proposed JSA crackdown] … will be the opening up of broadcast licenses for minorities, women, small entrepreneurs, because they’re currently being sucked off the market,” the FCC chairman told a congressional hearing Tuesday.
It looks like the FCC’s long-delayed multiple ownership proceeding won’t be decided this summer. The commission has asked for public comment on the report submitted by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council addressing the likely impact on minority ownership of broadcast stations of allowing more media crossownership.
The FCC should rule that virtual duopolies based on JSAs and SSAs are allowable only if the owners of the second stations are minorities or women. This would act as a powerful incentive for broadcasters to seek out such partners and give them the experience to eventually venture out on their own.
The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council is promoting a group of seven proposals designed to boost minority ownership, employment and diversity. It also says the package “would likely be met with industry and civil rights organization consensus.”