By Lauren Kelley
More than 50 media organizations have sent a joint letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski urging him to "make diversity a central focus of [the FCC's] upcoming Quadrennial Media Ownership Rule Review."
The letter states:
The strength of our country lies in the diversity of our people. Our media system will better serve the public interest when it draws on the diverse backgrounds, perspectives and talents of the population. Unfortunately, ownership of the nation’s media outlets consistently fails to reflect this diversity.
Women and people of color historically have been grossly underrepresented in ownership of radio and television stations — media forms that use the public airwaves and rank as our nation’s most popular and influential outlets. Women comprise over 51 percent of the population yet hold only 6 percent of radio and TV station licenses. And while people of color make up over 36 percent of the U.S. population, they hold just over 7 percent of radio licenses and 3 percent of TV licenses.
The continued absence of FCC action in the face of deep and intractable ownership disparities is unacceptable. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently affirmed that “ownership diversity is an important aspect of the overall media ownership regulatory framework.” Yet the FCC has failed to adopt proactive policies to remedy these disparities. Furthermore, it has persistently neglected even to examine or address the impact of existing media market consolidation on broadcast ownership opportunities for women and people of color. The FCC must take care not to repeat the mistakes of prior administrations by “pun[ting] yet again on this important issue"....
In conclusion, we urge the FCC to do the following:
1. Evaluate the impact of its media ownership rules on ownership opportunities for women and people of color.
2. Take proactive measures to promote ownership of broadcast stations by underrepresented groups.
3. Guard against further erosion of media ownership among these groups by maintainingexisting media ownership limits.
Absent these measures, ownership levels among underrepresented groups will continue to decline and the promise of a diverse media system that serves the information needs of all people will continue to elude our nation.
For more information the lack of diversity in mainstream media, and what that means for the nation's women, check out the documentary Miss Representation, which premiered in October on OWN:
Image via meddygarnet on Flickr