Media Monopolies: Broadcasting Industry Continues to Shut out Small Minority Operations

By Wade, Marcia A. | Black Enterprise, November 2008 | Go to article overview

Media Monopolies: Broadcasting Industry Continues to Shut out Small Minority Operations


Wade, Marcia A., Black Enterprise


WHEN THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION approved a controversial bid by Sirius Satellite Radio to acquire XM Satellite Radio for a reported $3.3 billion in July, many in the broadcasting industry saw the approval as giving big media leeway to form monopolies and shut out small minority-owned operations.

The five FCC commissioners were taken to task for that decision and others when minority broadcast owners, media brokers, and investors gathered to discuss the barriers to communications financing that women- and minority-owned broadcasting companies encounter. The commissioners had scheduled the hearing to learn why those barriers exist and what options might be available to dismantle them.

"The tsunami of media consolidation this country has been through over the past decade and more has been bad--very bad--for minority and female ownership." said FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps, who along with Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein dissented from the decision to approve the Sirius-XM merger. "But as we all know, the commission has taken a very different approach, actually pushing for greater media consolidation rather than attempting to stem the tide." Copps notes that the nation is approaching a minority population of one-third, but people of color own only 3% of full-power commercial television stations.

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"These numbers are disturbing to me as a woman, as the mother of a daughter, as a policymaker, and as a consumer," says Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, one of the three Republicans who voted for the Sirius XM merger.

Panelists at the hearing identified solutions that could help increase access to financing to improve minority ownership. These ranged from repealing FCC regulations that discourage investors, to holding Arbitron, an audience radio research company, accountable for discrepancies when measuring young African American and Hispanic audiences. …

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