Free Press (freepress.net) today announced that three Members of Congress endorsed FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein’s call for an independent, nonpartisan task force to address the disgracefully low levels of media ownership by people of color.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) endorsed the creation of a task force in public statements and letters sent late last week to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. The national, nonpartisan media reform group Free Press is urging the public to contact the FCC in support of the new task force.
At the FCC hearing in Chicago on Sept. 20, Adelstein called for a bipartisan, independent panel to review more than 40 policy recommendations proposed by the FCC’s Diversity Committee and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council. “Dozens of diversity enhancement recommendations have been collecting dust at the FCC since as far back as 1992,” Adelstein said. “I believe 15 years is long enough — justice deferred is justice denied.”
At the national level, according to research by Free Press, people of color make up 33 percent of the entire U.S. population yet own 7.2 percent of all full-power radio and TV stations. While women comprise 51 percent of the entire U.S. population, they own less than 6 percent of full-power commercial radio and TV stations.
“It is unacceptable for the FCC to move ahead with plans to allow for more media consolidation without first addressing how to increase minority ownership,” Congressman Conyers, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “I support Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein’s call for the FCC to create an independent task force to examine ways to increase minority ownership.”
The FCC was ordered to address minority ownership issues as part of the landmark 2004 Prometheus v. FCC decision. In August, after nearly a year of inaction on the issue, Chairman Martin asked for public comment on a series of proposals on minority media ownership. However, the public was given just a narrow, two-month window — ending Oct. 1 — to weigh in on the complex proposals.
“We need to deal with the disgraceful state of ownership by women and people of color first,” said Joseph Torres of Free Press, which coordinates the StopBigMedia.com Coalition. “The FCC has ignored these issues for far too long. Unchecked media consolidation makes it nearly impossible for anybody but the largest conglomerates get on the public airwaves. We need an independent, honest and thorough accounting of how FCC policies have impacted women and minority owners before even considering any changes that could make things worse.”
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