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WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it will solicit ideas for new research on barriers to entry for small businesses and underrepresented groups to participate in the communications and media industries.

This request is an important step in the media ownership review process. Last summer, a U.S. Court of Appeals directed the FCC to gather this kind of data and to consider the impact of its media ownership rules on diversity prior to issuing an order in its 2010 Quadrennial Media Ownership Review.

Free Press Senior Policy Counsel Corie Wright made the following statement:

"It's encouraging that the FCC is finally moving forward on this long-overdue research. It has been nearly 13 years since the FCC first changed its policies to allow greater local media market concentration, a move that was followed by a sharp decline in the level of ownership of broadcast stations among racial and ethnic minorities. But despite the fact that Congress tasked the FCC with promoting diverse ownership, the Commission to date has failed to conduct basic research that examines how its pro-consolidation policies have impacted broadcast ownership by women and people of color.

"Assessing and addressing barriers to entry for women and people of color is not only the right thing to do as a matter of policy, it is essential to the FCC’s completion of its 2010 Quadrennial Media Ownership Review. The court has twice told the FCC that it must both evaluate the impact of its media ownership rules on minority and female ownership and consider targeted measures to address longstanding ownership disparities. Moreover, the FCC must undertake and complete such actions before it finishes the current quadrennial review — or risk being overruled for a third time.

“We extend particular thanks to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for championing the need for better data on and better understanding of the barriers to entry faced by underrepresented groups, including women and people of color. We urge the FCC to conduct research that will create sustainable policies to promote a fairer and more competitive media marketplace by making sure that every person — regardless of color or gender — has a meaningful opportunity to serve the public and succeed in the broadcast industry.”

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