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FCC moves to improve collection of broadcast ownership information

May 7, 2009

The FCC last month took steps to improve collection of data to get a better picture of the status of minority and female ownership of broadcast properties and help it in taking steps to promote diversity.

On April 8, the commission issued an Order changing reporting requirements on its “Ownership Report for Commercial Broadcast Stations” (FCC Form 323) filed by full-power commercial AM, FM and TV broadcasters to provide information on the race, ethnicity and gender of owners.

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Changes include:

  • Eliminating filing exemptions for full-power commercial stations owned by individuals or partnerships of natural persons. Their exclusion overlooks a potentially significant group of minority and female owners.
  • Adding LPTV and Class A television stations to the class of stations required to file ownership information on Form 323. Excluding these stations from the filing requirement will prevent the commission from overlooking “a potentially substantial reservoir of minority and female owners of broadcast facilities.”
  • Broadening the scope of reportable interests.

The commission also issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on changes to the ownership report required of non-commercial broadcasters. The further notice asks whether non-commercial licensees should include gender and racial/ethnic information on FCC Form 323-E; how to define ownership of a non-commercial broadcaster; and how to minimize the burden of recordkeeping.

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