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.

Thanks in large part to Free Press advocacy, the Federal Communications Commission dropped a recent plan to allow more media consolidation. At two other points in the last decade, a federal court had twice rebuked the FCC for failing to even measure ownership levels, as well as failing to ensure ownership opportunities for everyone. These rulings didn't stop former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski from floating another proposal to weaken the ownership rules in 2013. A Free Press-led coalition campaign helped push FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to scrap this proposal. Free Press is now pushing the FCC to create rules that truly promote the virtues of localism and diversity.

Blog Posts

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Press Releases

  • Appeals Court Again Tells FCC to Get to Work on Broadcast Diversity and Localism

    May 25, 2016
    WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia found that the Federal Communications Commission had “unreasonably delayed” action to promote broadcast diversity and to increase opportunities for ownership of local TV and radio stations by women and people of color.
  • Free Press Mourns Everett C. Parker

    September 17, 2015
    WASHINGTON — The Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, the founder of the Office of Communication, Inc., at the United Church of Christ, died on Thursday morning at the age of 102.
  • FCC Approves Sinclair-Allbritton Deal Minus Shell Games

    July 24, 2014
    Washington — On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission approved Sinclair Broadcast Group's $985 million acquisition of several Allbritton TV stations, along with NewsChannel 8 in Washington. The final deal is far different from the one Sinclair initially proposed in July 2013. And today’s FCC approval came only after Sinclair was forced to alter the deal in response to opposition by Free Press.
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News from Around the Web

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    Consolidation has long run rampant in the news, cable and broadband industries. In all of these cases consumers suffer the consequences.
  • 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.

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