Entry for September 20, 2006

The logo is that of the Stop Big Media Coalition.

Free Press, a charter member of the coalition, released a report today, “Out of the Picture,”  which looks at the effects of FCC Policy and media consolidation on US television station ownership by minorities and women.

In the landmark Prometheus v. FCC decision, the Third Circuit chastised the FCC for ignoring the issue of female and minority ownership. But since 2003, the FCC has done very little to address the issue. The FCC has abdicated its responsibility to monitor and foster increased minority and female broadcast ownership. In fact, the Commission cannot account for the actual state of female and minority ownership.

The report’s authors are S. Derek Turner, research director for Free Press and Mark Cooper, reseasch director for the Consumer Federation of America and a fellow at Fordam University’s McGannon Communications Research Center, which was founded in 1986 to research communications policy and ethics, particularly with regards to the public interest dimensions of media performance.  

Among the report’s findings:

  • Women comprise 51 percent of the entire U.S. population, but own only 4.97 percent of all TV stations
  • Minorities make up 33 percent of the entire U.S. population, but own only 3.26 percent of all stations
  • While the level of female and minority ownership has advanced in other industries since the late 1990s, it has worsened in the broadcast sector
  • Hispanic- or Latino-owned stations reach just 21.8 percent of the Latino TV households in the United States
  • 91 percent of African-American TV households are not reached by a black-owned TV station
  • Markets with minority owners are significantly less concentrated than markets without them — even if the size of the market is held constant.

They conclude:

The FCC should seriously consider the effects on minority owners and viewers before it moves toenact policies that will lead to increased market concentration. The implications of this study should be clear: Further industry consolidation will diminish the number of minority- and femaleowned stations. If just a handful of female and minority-owned stations were lost to consolidation, these already anemic numbers would fall precipitously.

Cooper’s employer, the  Consumer Federation of America is also a charter member of the Stop Big Media coalition, as are:  

*

Another coalition member, Common Cause, issued an alert on September 12, opposingWarren Bell’s nomination to the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  In a profile they point to some of his disturbing comments:

[he said he]  would “reach across the aisle and hug Nancy Pelosi … except this is a new shirt, and that sort of thing leaves a stain.” 

“I support a woman’s right to choose what movie we should see, but not that other one.  I am on the Right in every way.” 

On his practice of using TiVo to block birth control ads on television he does not want his children to see:  “A little vigilance is all it takes – well, that and a couple hundred bucks for a TiVo…Sorry, poor people, your kids are going to be asking you awkward questions about condoms.”

Today, the Senate Commerce Committee announced the removal of Bell’s name for consideration at a September 21 hearing, after several members of the committee expressed concern.

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