Public Interest and Civil Rights Groups Speak Out Against Unfounded Attacks on Mark Lloyd

More than 50 organizations call on the FCC and Congress to support the work of the FCC diversity officer and to correct the record on localism and diversity policies
Contact Info: 
Moira Vahey, Free Press, (202) 265-1490, x 31

WASHINGTON -- On Wednesday, more than 50 civil rights, public interest and grassroots organizations sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and congressional leaders supporting Mark Lloyd, the associate general counsel and chief diversity officer of the FCC, and the agency's longstanding mission to promote localism, diversity and competition in the media.

In recent weeks, Mr. Lloyd has been unfairly attacked on cable TV and radio talk shows with false and misleading information about his role and responsibilities at the FCC. A respected scholar and public servant, Lloyd was hired by the agency to expand media opportunities for women, people of color, small businesses, and those living in rural areas.

The full text of the letter and a list of signatories is below:

September 16, 2009

To: FCC Commissioners and Congressional Leaders

We, the undersigned, ask you to speak out against the falsehoods and misinformation that are threatening to derail important work by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission on media and technology policies that would benefit all Americans.

In recent weeks, Mark Lloyd, the associate general counsel and chief diversity officer of the FCC, has come under attack by prominent cable TV and radio hosts, and even by some members of Congress, who have made false and misleading claims about his work at the agency.

Mr. Lloyd is a respected historian, an experienced civil rights leader, and a dedicated public servant. He was hired by the FCC to "collaborate on the policies and legal framework necessary to expand opportunities for women, minorities, and small businesses to participate in the communications marketplace." His important work should not be hindered by lies and innuendo.

As the leading media policymakers in Washington, we ask you to speak out against these unfounded attacks, stand publicly behind Mr. Lloyd, and make clear your commitment to carrying out the core mandate of the FCC -- as enshrined in the Communications Act of 1934 -- to promote localism, diversity and competition in the media.

Let us be clear as to what "localism" actually means. Broadcasters get hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of subsidies in exchange for a basic commitment to serve the public interest. Broadcasters are expected to be responsive to their local communities. Localism has been a cornerstone of broadcast regulation as long as there has been broadcast regulation. It has nothing to do with censorship or interference with local programming decisions. Localism is simply about public service, not about any political viewpoint. Local public service programming and political talk radio, whether liberal or conservative, are not mutually exclusive.

Likewise, as the Supreme Court has recognized, "Safeguarding the public's right to receive a diversity of views and information over the airwaves is ... an integral component of the FCC's mission." Diversity of media ownership is a crucial issue, and the agency must address the fact that women and people of color are vastly underrepresented among media owners using the public airwaves.

But diversity is also about closing the digital divide: People of color, the poor, and rural Americans are far less likely to have high-speed Internet access at home or share in the benefits of broadband. Diversity is about creating opportunities and broadening participation; it should go without saying, but it has absolutely nothing to do with censorship.

The third tenet of the FCC’s mission is competition. Those using their media megaphones to slander and distort the views of Mr. Lloyd and others may not want competition. But the FCC’s job, in its own words, is "to strengthen the diverse and robust marketplace of ideas that is essential to our democracy." The overriding goal must be more speech, not less -- more radio stations, more cable channels and more Web sites.

At the core of President Obama’s media and technology agenda is a commitment to "diversity in the ownership of broadcast media" and a pledge to "promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints." Now is the time to further that agenda, not to retreat from it.

We ask you, as leaders on these key media issues, to draw a line in the sand now, speak out against the unfounded attacks, and redouble your efforts to enact a policy agenda that will strengthen our economy, our society and our democracy.

Sincerely,

Josh Silver

Free Press

Wade Henderson

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Winnie Stachelberg

Center for American Progress

James Rucker

ColorOfChange.org

Stephanie Jones

National Urban League Policy Institute

Brent Wilkes

League of United Latin American Citizens

Larry Cohen

Communications Workers of America

Alex Nogales

National Hispanic Media Coalition

Bernie Lunzer

The Newspaper Guild

Communications Workers of America

Kimberly Marcus

Rainbow PUSH Coalition's Public Policy Institute

Malkia Cyril

Center for Media Justice

Andrew Schwartzman

Media Access Project

John Kosinski

Writers Guild of America West

Sandy Close

New America Media

Amalia Deloney

Media Action Grassroots Network

Angelo Falcon

National Institute for Latino Policy

Michael Calabrese

New America Foundation

Melanie Campbell

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

Gigi Sohn

Public Knowledge

Rinku Sen

Applied Research Center

John Clark

National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians

Communications Workers of America

Graciela Sanchez

Esperanza Peace and Justice Center

Mimi Pickering

Appalshop

Steven Renderos

Main Street Project

Hal Ponder

American Federation of Musicians

Tracy Rosenberg

Media Alliance

Terry O'Neill

National Organization for Women

Roger Hickey

Campaign for America's Future

Andrea Quijada

New Mexico Media Literacy Project

Jonathan Lawson

Reclaim the Media

DeAnne Cuellar

Texas Media Empowerment Project

Chris Rabb

Afro-Netizen

Loris Ann Taylor

Lisa Fager Bediako

Industry Ears

O. Ricardo Pimentel

National Association of Hispanic Journalists

Todd Wolfson

Media Mobilizing Project

Erica Williams

Campus Progress

Gary Flowers

Black Leadership Forum

Eva Paterson

Equal Justice Society

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr

Hip Hop Caucus

Cheryl Contee

Jack and Jill Politics

Dr. E. Faye Williams

National Congress of Black Women

Emily Sheketoff

American Library Association

Ari Rabin-Havt

Media Matters Action Network

Kathryn Galan

National Association of Latino Independent Producers

Roberto Lovato

Presente

Joshua Breitbart

People's Production House

Karen Bond

National Black Coalition for Media Justice

Tracy Van Slyke

Media Consortium

Shireen Mitchell

Digital Sisters, Inc

Media and Technology Task Force

National Council of Women's Organizations

Tessie Guillermo

ZeroDivide

Ariel Dougherty

Media Equity Collaborative

Helen Soule

Alliance for Community Media

Helen De Michiel

National Alliance for Media Arts & Culture (NAMAC)

Carol Pierson

National Federation of Community Broadcasters

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