Diversity in Media Ownership

When you tune in to your local news, what do you see? Or more importantly, who do you see?

The typical nightly newscast often depicts people of color only via negative images of black men in handcuffs and Latinos invading our borders.

And women are vastly underrepresented in the news. 4th Estate's six-month study of 2012 election-year coverage  found that major American newspapers and TV news programs featured up to seven times as many quotes from men than women. This held true even when “women’s issues” were the subject.

What happens when women and people of color are excluded from national conversations? Other people get to tell their stories … or the stories remain untold altogether.

This lack of accurate coverage — or of any coverage at all — relates directly to media consolidation. Mergers have kept female and minority media ownership at low levels:

  • Women comprise over 51 percent of the U.S. population but hold less than 7 percent of all TV and radio station licenses.

  • People of color make up over 36 percent of the U.S. population but hold just over 7 percent of radio licenses and 3 percent of TV licenses.

As consolidation cuts back on the number of TV and radio station owners, women and people of color have fewer chances to become media owners and promote diverse programming.

The Federal Communications Commission is currently reviewing its media ownership limits. A federal court has twice rebuked the FCC for failing to even measure ownership levels, as well as failing to ensure ownership opportunities for everyone. The agency is considering relaxing its media ownership rules yet again — which would lead to even more media consolidation and even fewer ownership opportunities for underrepresented communities. Free Press is pushing the FCC to create rules that truly promote the virtues of localism and diversity.

Blog Posts

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  • Hey FCC, Come Visit Me!

    It’s been five years since the FCC left Washington, D.C., in an official capacity to hear how its policies affect real people. It’s time for the agency to schedule meetings in communities around the country to give people a real voice in the policymaking process.

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Press Releases

  • FCC Moves to Curb Runaway TV Consolidation

    March 31, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission moved for the first time in three decades to roll back media consolidation.

  • Free Press Hails FCC Plans to Expose Covert Consolidation, Promote Broadcast Diversity

    March 6, 2014
    WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that the agency will take a closer look at television station "sharing arrangements." These agreements allow a single conglomerate to control multiple stations in the same market, skirting FCC rules that are supposed to preserve independence and diversity on the airwaves.
  • Hundreds Gather to Welcome FCC Chairman in Oakland

    January 9, 2014

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- On Thursday, it was standing room only in Nile Hall at Preservation Park as hundreds of Oakland residents gathered to tell Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler about the issues that matter most to them. The event, hosted by the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition in partnership with the Center for Media Justice, Free Press, ColorOfChange and the National Hispanic Media Coalition, was the chairman’s first community event outside the Beltway.

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News from Around the Web

  • Wheeler: JSA Changes to Benefit Minorities

    March 27, 2014

    FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told federal lawmakers that his proposal to crack down on joint sales agreements is likely to result in more minority station ownership in the United States because it will lower the prices of TV stations currently held in JSAs.

  • Under Pressure, FCC Stops Asking Questions About Media Diversity

    March 14, 2014

    Late last month, the FCC announced the end of its “Critical Information Needs” (CIN) pilot study. The study, which was supposed to have been field-tested in “ethnically diverse” Columbia, S.C., was going to explore whether local news outlets were meeting the information needs of their communities—in particular, people of color and women. The CIN instead met a “quiet” end as FCC watchers described it, following a raucous blitz.

  • Welcome to Oakland, Mr. Wheeler

    New America Media
    January 9, 2014

    It’s rare you get the chance to talk about media and technology’s impact on your life with someone who actually can do something about it. But this is exactly the opportunity Oakland residents will have when Tom Wheeler, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, takes part in a town hall meeting on Jan. 9 at Preservation Park at 7 p.m.

Learn More

  • Media Consolidation

    The more independent outlets a community has, the more different viewpoints will be presented on the air. But what happens when there’s no one left to compete?
  • Covert Consolidation

    When you turn on the nightly news, you expect to find competing viewpoints and different perspectives from one station to the next. But in communities across the country, stations that were once fierce competitors have cut staff and merged their newsrooms, in many cases airing the same content on multiple stations in the same market. You can try to change the channel, but all you'll see is the exact same newscast.

  • Rupert Murdoch Scandal

    There are many reasons the scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has riveted public attention around the world. It's a story that features all of the classic elements: crimes, betrayal, abuse of power and even a cover-up.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good