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A Painful Reminder. A Moment for Change

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WASHINGTON — On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission released its latest round of data showing little to no improvement in the diversity of broadcast-media ownership. The report, which features data from 2017, says that ownership of full-power television stations by women and Hispanic/Latino owners declined over the previous two years, dropping to 5.3 percent and 4.2 percent respectively. Black owners continue to own a mere 12 full-power television stations nationally, or less than 1 percent.

Even though the data continue to demonstrate an appalling lack of diversity, this FCC has made virtually no efforts to improve the situation. Instead, the agency has worked to deregulate broadcast even further and entrench barriers to entry for women owners and owners of color. In fact, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently held that the FCC had failed to even study the issue of broadcast diversity before implementing these changes.

Free Press Policy Manager Dana Floberg made the following statement:

“Even in the internet era, broadcast radio reaches almost 90 percent of people in the United States every week, and broadcast television remains the most popular source for local news and information. We need comprehensive reforms to remedy the historical discrimination that continues to block women and people of color from becoming station owners.

“The Trump FCC has shown a profound indifference to this issue. The fact that it took three years to release a report on data from 2017 speaks volumes. But it’s no surprise given that this is the same agency that has destroyed one media-ownership rule after the other — and bent over backwards to pave the way for the destructive Sinclair-Tribune merger before belatedly taking steps to stop it.

“Media ownership has a dramatic impact on our communities. It directly influences reporting, resulting all too often in coverage that stigmatizes people of color. In the Third Circuit’s recent ruling, the court sided with public-interest groups like Free Press and ordered the FCC to properly weigh all of the evidence showing the impact of media consolidation on local communities. The agency needs to take ownership diversity seriously and take all necessary steps to boost opportunities for women and people of color. The FCC’s own report shows what happens when this issue is neglected year after year.”

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