WASHINGTON -- On Wednesday, Free Press submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission in response to the agency's recent report on the ownership of commercial broadcast stations.
The report confirmed that women and people of color remain disproportionately underrepresented in broadcast ownership, with some numbers still moving in the wrong direction. For example, the data show that African Americans own just five full-power television stations, down from 19 in 2006. In other words, African Americans comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, but own a mere 0.4 percent of TV stations.
The FCC released its report on the same day that it internally circulated an order to relax its ownership rules — calling into question how the agency could have relied on or analyzed this data in drafting that decision.
Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:
"We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the data, which still shows shockingly low levels of broadcast ownership diversity. But the FCC’s truncated comment period — during the holiday season, no less — is hardly a serious attempt to address this matter.
"Releasing these numbers is the first step the FCC needs to take, but it's not enough. Just having the numbers in hand won’t satisfy the mandate of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected the agency’s attempts to weaken ownership rules on two prior occasions.
"The FCC must thoroughly examine and analyze its broadcast ownership data, and then act accordingly to promote and protect diversity instead of allowing it to disappear. It must go beyond capturing a snapshot of the state of ownership, and actually study the impact proposed rule changes would have on opportunities for women and people of color. Seeing that complete picture would make it all too clear that the FCC cannot justify further relaxing these rules."
To read the comments submitted by Free Press, go to: http://www.freepress.net/resource/101480/free-press-ownership-data-comments.