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Feb 18

LISTA Joins 23 Natational Organizations to Address Minority Inclusion in Media by FCC to Chairman Genachowski

The FCC’s Civil Rights Record & Overdue Section 257 Triennial Report to Congress

Dear Chairman Genachowski:

As you know, in Section 257 of the Communications Act, Congress requires the Commission   to submit triennial reports “identifying and eliminating Émarket entry barriers for entrepreneurs and other small businesses….” The Commission submitted the required reports for 1997, 2000, 2003, and (several months late) 2006, but the Commission has not yet submitted its 2009 Report.

From your eloquent letter of January 5, 2010 to Henry Rivera, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age, we know that you share our concern for the fact that minority ownership and employment in our industries are de minimis and in many respects nearing extinction. Minority television ownership has decreased by 50% since 1999. Minority radio ownership has declined by 9% just within the last three years. Minority wireless and cable system ownership levels are near zero. Finally, minority radio journalism employment has plummeted to less than 1%, a level not seen since 1950.

It is therefore unfortunate that, in 2009, the Commission failed to vote on any of the dozens of pending proposals to advance minority ownership and participation in the industries the Commission regulates, including proposals endorsed by the Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age (http://www.fcc.gov/DiversityFAC/). The following examples illustrate the Commission’s shortcomings in areas of concern to us. The FCC has failed:

  • To adopt any of the two dozen proposed noncontroversial initiatives that would give minority businesses an opportunity to acquire FCC-licensed assets.
  • To restore minimal enforcement of the broadcast Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Rule, and to assign a compliance officer to the 2007 Advertising Nondiscrimination Rule which, if it were enforced, could restore to minority broadcasters the approximately $200 million every year that they forego because of racial discrimination by advertisers.
  • To hold a hearing on Arbitron’s “Portable People Meter” (PPM) audience measurement technology.
  • For the fifth straight year since Hurricane Katrina – to act on the Spanish Radio Association/United Church of Christ/MMTC petition to provide for the multilingual broadcasts of emergency information. The September 8,2009 “FCC Preparedness for Major Public Emergencies” Report did not even mention this critical issue.
  • To repeal the 2006 Designated Entity rules that have decimated minority wireless ownership: of the $19 billion fair market value of licenses sold in Auction 73 last year, minorities acquired $5 million, or less than three-hundredths of one percent of the total value of those licenses.
  • To include even a mention of minorities or minority business enterprises in the December 2009 National Broadband Plan Framework Ð ignoring the transcripts from four staff workshops and two field hearings at which the witnesses focused on minority cyberpreneurship.
  • To support the only remaining federal initiative aimed at promoting minority and women media and telecom ownership Ð the Telecommunications Development Fund. Nowhere in the Commission’s 2009 legislative recommendations was support for this vital initiative mentioned. In fact, on January 28, the Administration Ð without consulting with diversity advocates Ð proposed a budget that would eliminate the Fund entirely. The budget narrative suggested that a proposed loan program and, even more implausibly, the USF are adequate substitutes for this equity fund for new entrants.

To advance the civil rights objectives of the agency and the administration, we would be glad to assist the Commission with a comprehensive review of what can be done in 2010 to promote minority ownership and equal employment in the telecommunications sector. We specifically ask that you place on the agenda of the Commission’s A pril 2010 public Commission meeting a Report and Order adopting several of the dozens of long-pending, fully briefed and virtually unopposed proposals to advance media and telecom ownership diversity.

Sincerely,

Asian American Justice Center

Black College Communication Association

The Hispanic Institute

Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership

International Black Broadcasters Association

Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

League of United Latin American Citizens

Minority Media and Telecommunications Council

National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters

National Association of Black Telecommunications Professionals

National Association of Latino Independent Producers

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

National Black Coalition for Media Justice

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation-Black Women’s Roundtable National Congress of Black Women, Inc.

National Council of La Raza

National Puerto Rican Coalition

National Urban League

Rainbow PUSH Coalition

Spanish Broadcasters Association

United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

UNITY: Journalists of Color

cc: Senator Robert Menendez

Congressman Bobby L. Rush

Congressman Edolphus Towns

Congressman G.K. Butterfield

Delegate Donna M. Christensen

Hon. Michael J. Copps, Commissioner, FCC

Hon. Robert McDowell, Commissioner, FCC

Hon. Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner, FCC

Hon. Meredith Attwell Baker, Commissioner, FCC

Hon. Calvin Smyre, Presid ent, National Black Caucus of State Legislators Hon. Iris Martinez, President, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Hon. Robin Read, President, National Foundation of Women Legislators

Hon. Sharon Weston-Broome, President, National Organization of Black Elected

Legislative Women

Hon. Robert Steele, President, National Association of Black County Officials Hon. Sergio Rodriguez, President, Hispanic Elected Local Officials

Hon. Samuel Audwin, President, National Black Caucus of Local Elected Official Hon. George Grace, President, National Conference of Black Mayors

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