Post racial future not extending to media ownership

The FCC released a report on women and minority media ownership, and while the data is far from complete, the first indications are not good. Although the FCC is charged with compiling a comprehensive quadrennial review, this report only looks at 2009 and 2011. Nevertheless, it reveals little, if any progress in diversification of media ownership.

At the same time, the FCC is considering relaxing its rules on minority ownership. In response, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights issued a letter insisting that the FCC at least complete its research on ownership before making changes. The LCCHR said:

"Relaxing these rules will eliminate future opportunities for participation in this marketplace by women and people of color that cannot be recovered by subsequent changes. We strongly urge you to move with deliberation and seek further comment before taking action."

The LCCHR was joined in this letter by CWA as well as the ACLU, the NAACP, NOW and eight others.

The numbers for 2009 and 2011 are stark. For instance, when it comes to major, full power TV stations, racial minorities owned a depressing 2.2 percent in both years. Looking at all broadcast stations, the number improve - slightly. "Whites collectively or individually held a majority of the voting interests in 9,610 broadcast stations." At the same time, "Racial minorities collectively or individually held a majority of the voting interests in 559 broadcast stations..."

The website Hispanically Speaking took a look at the data and found it not at all encouraging:

"According to this data, the number of Latino-owned media outlets is dismal, especially in light of the fact that Latinos make up over 16% of the U.S. population. In 2011, Latinos 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."

The U.S. should, and can, do better.

Report on ownership of commercial broadcast stations (FCC report, Nov. 14, 2012)

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights letter (letter, Nov. 20, 2012)

FCC Report Shows Latino Media Ownership Remains Extremely Low
(Hispanically Speaking, Nov. 18, 2012)