How Do We Cultivate Media Ownership?

Photo Credit: FreePress

New FCC rules can shrink African-American ownership of television and radio stations across the country. The Report on Ownership of Commercial Broadcast Stations released by the FCC found that African American owned 231 broadcast stations in 2011-- only a fraction of the 9,610 stations owned by whites. African Americans own only one percent of full power commercial television stations. The report highlights the need for more stations owned by people of color and the huge gap between stations owned by people of color and those owned by whites.

One factor in this gap is the access to financial backing. Owning a television or radio station—and keeping it running—takes money and resources that many people of color may not have. New FCC rules will make funding harder to obtain and may lessen the number of broadcast stations owned by Blacks and Latinos. Another factor is a major change to the FCC’s rules against broadcast duopoly, when one company owns two or more stations in the same city or community. With the new rules, large media companies can increase ownership in markets where they previously could not own more than two media outlets. 

Access to resources is not the only obstacle people of color trying to break into broadcast ownership face. Employment discrimination also decreases the talent pool of eligible candidates of color.

NAACP Hollywood Bureau Executive Director Vicangelo Bulluck made this point about the FCC's new rules:

The NAACP is deeply concerned that the FCC would consider changing media ownership rules without conducting comprehensive research on how the proposed change would impact opportunities for minorities.

The NAACP Hollywood Bureau advocates for more diversity in the media, including the ownership of broadcast stations. The FCC must reinstate the rules against broadcast duopoly and create an avenue for more African American ownership of media.