Byron Allen Urges Senate to Confirm FCC Nom Gigi Sohn

Byron Allen
(Image credit: Byron Allen)

WASHINGTON D.C.—In the runup to the December 1 Senate hearing on the nomination of Gigi Sohn to the FCC, Byron Allen has issued an open letter to the Senate backing Sohn’s nomination, saying that she will be a strong advocate for “diversity, supporting localism, and protecting freedom of speech. That is why I am supporting Gigi Sohn to be confirmed as an FCC Commissioner.”

Allen, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Allen Media Group particularly highlighted the need for more diverse media ownership in his support letter. 

“It  should not be the case in 2021 that Black Americans, who comprise approximately 12% of the U.S. population, own a majority interest in less than 2% of full-power broadcast TV stations,” he wrote. “I should not be the only Black American who  owns and operates major network affiliated stations. The FCC is charged with promoting diversity of ownership and viewpoints yet has fallen short of achieving a truly diverse media landscape. Gigi Sohn understands and is a champion against this inequity. Over many years, she has worked nonstop to promote greater competition and more minority ownership in broadcasting. As a commissioner, she would have the tools to improve ownership diversity among FCC licensees.”

He also added that "as the first openly LGBTQ person in history nominated to the FCC, Gigi truly understands on a personal level why diversity and inclusion for all Americans matters.” 

Mignon Clyburn, the first Black woman ever to serve as acting chair of the FCC, also supported the nomination, Allen said. 

The latter also stressed Sohn’s commitment to defending free speech and localism. 

“The FCC is supposed to promote localism but often fails to protect local broadcast affiliates against abuses from much larger companies and industries,” Allen wrote. “Gigi Sohn understands this innately.”

“Whether fighting for an open Internet  or for the free speech rights of conservatives with whom she disagrees, Gigi advocates for all people to speak and be heard,” Allen argued. “That is why multiple conservatives who disagree with her on a lot of issues publicly support Gigi’s confirmation to the FCC.”

The Sohn nomination has, however, come under fire from a number of people, including Armstrong Williams, the manager and sole owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations. He has argued she would hurt minority ownership. 

In an article in Next TV opposing the nomination (opens in new tab), William wrote that Sohn would “saddle the industry with unnecessary, harmful regulations” and “her policy preferences would actively deter minority media ownership and depress the investment in broadcasting needed to elevate minority voices.”

“Time and again, Sohn has prioritized an anti-business ideology over the practical realities of what it takes for minorities to succeed in this industry,” Williams concluded. “The FCC ought to be led by people who encourage minority media ownership, support those at the margins, and encourage private sector growth and development.” 

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.