minority media ownership

We wrote in December about the delays in the FCC’s proceeding to consider whether changes should be made to its multiple ownership rules. The December delays were to allow for public comment on ownership information obtained from broadcasters in their Form 323 Ownership Reports. Specifically, the public was asked to comment on the what the ownership information revealed about ownership of broadcast properties by members of minority groups, and whether proposed reforms in the ownership rules would affect minority ownership.  Comments from certain public interest groups suggested that any relaxation of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules or the rules limiting radio-TV cross-ownership would further adversely affect minority ownership, a position that seemingly made certain of the FCC Commissioners reluctant to approve any changes in the ownership rules. This week, the Commission announced another delay in any resolution of this proceeding as the MMTC (the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council) has commissioned a study of the impact of any further consolidation in media ownership on minority broadcast operators.

The study, to be conducted by the broadcast financial analysis firm BIA Kelsey, is supposed to be conducted quickly – in the next 60 days. It is also supposed to be peer reviewed to analyze its methodology and conclusions, and will probably be subject to further public comment at the FCC once it is filed in the record of the multiple ownership proceeding. So this means that there will be likely no decision as to changes in the ownership rules for at least 3 or 4 months – and perhaps longer.


Continue Reading Further Delay in Multiple Ownership Proceeding as the FCC Awaits New Study on the Impact on Minority Ownership of Any Relaxation of the Cross-Interest Rules

In the last few months, attention of the broadcast press has been focused on the pressing regulatory issues of the day – matters such as content regulation (indecency, violence and junk food advertising), the digital conversion of radio and TV, and the new digital media landscape and its impact on broadcasters (XM/Sirius, You Tube and Internet video, and Internet radio).  Almost forgotten is the multiple ownership proceeding that began in earnest last summer when the FCC issued its Notice of Proposed Rule making (see our summary here), but which has really been pending in front of the Commission since the US Court of Appeals issued its Stay of the FCC’s 2003 Order adopting "new" ownership rules.  This week, at least some attention was brought back to the issue following the release by the organization Free Press of a study  that purports to document the effects that consolidation has had on minority and female ownership in the broadcast media.  Coupled with an electronic press conference featuring the two Democratic FCC Commissioners, the report merited an article in the Los Angeles Times and other mainstream press outlets.  It is a study that should be read by broadcasters, as it will likely form part of the debate on this most important issue.

While studies have been issued on and off throughout the debate over the multiple ownership rules, seemingly proving almost whatever the party providing the study wants to prove, this study should not be ignored.  Executive summaries and a full copy of the report can be found here.  The report purports to show that consolidation in the media holds down minority and female ownership.  And, unlike many other studies that have obvious design flaws and seem to be based on faulty assumptions, this one considers many of the obvious objections.  It does not under count minority ownership – in fact it takes the FCC to task for under counting such ownership, and actually reports higher amounts of minority and female ownership than the FCC itself had acknowledged.  The report also addresses the usual response to such studies – that it is a question of access to capital that results in the disparities – by doing a comparison of minority and female ownership in broadcasting to that ownership in other industries, and finding broadcasting very close to the bottom in diverse ownership.


Continue Reading Study Released Showing Effects of Broadcast Consolidation – Broadcasters Should Pay Attention