Office of Communications, Inc.

UCC Media Justice Update

UCC speaks out -- stop policies harming diversity in media

UCC OC Inc. is proud today to join with many other civil rights organizations to ask the Federal Communications Commission to put a stop to current proposals that would permit more media consolidation. While UCC OC Inc. is used to these fights--we've stopped the last two rounds of media consolidation proposed by the FCC--it is extremely disappointing to be offering the same critiques at this time as in past years. 

Last week the Federal Communications Commission released its first-ever comprehensive data about media ownership diversity.  For fourteen years the UCC has lead the charge asking the FCC to stand by its promises and take action to ensure our media is as diverse as the country it serves.  So last week should have felt like a victory--but unfortunately the data was released on the same day that the current FCC Chairman proposed to his colleagues to permit more media consolidation.

We should be clear -- the new data showed the same poor showing by women and people of color that we have always known about.  In the past outside groups like UCC's ally Free Press had attempted to create the data set the FCC had not.  Now we have the real, official, comprehensive government data and it shows that:

  • For full power TV stations, women own 6.8 percent of the nation's television stations; Latinos control 2.9 percent, African-Americans .7 percent, Asian Americans .5 percent and American Indians .9 percent. 
  •  For FM radio, women control 5.8 percent, Latinos control 2.7 percent, African-Americans 1.7 percent, Asian Americans .8 percent and American Indians .5 percent. 

Many studies (and pure common sense) explain that when the media is more consolidated, women owners and owners of color are more rare and less successful.  TV and radio stations owned by women and people of color are more likely to be independently owned, and independent stations have a hard time competing against conglomerates.  Diversity in ownership of any industry is an important value--but for the media it is even more important because the media shapes this country's political conversation and the way it views individuals and groups. 

Once media ownership rules are relaxed, the larger companies go on a buying spree.  They buy the smaller stations that they were prohibited from buying before.  These small stations run by women and people of color disappear from the marketplace leaving an already-concentrated marketplace even less representative than before.

Most aggravating, the FCC is proposing consolidation without giving anyone in the public a chance to analyze the new data.  And, the FCC might be going even further--might be concluding that ownership diversity is no longer relevant to promote a diverse marketplace of ideas.

We at UCC OC Inc. are hoping that cooler heads will prevail and the FCC will stop and deliberate further before pursuing additional concentration at the expense of media diversity.

Categories: media concentration

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