Congress Votes to Increase Diversity in Media Ownership

U.S. Capitol
(Image credit: Future)

WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives has passed a bill that reaffirms Congress’ commitment to media diversity and strategy of working with media organizations to better represent the American people.

The bill, H. Res 549, was introduced in 2019 by Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.). It’s official wording is: “[A] resolution reaffirming the commitment of the House of Representatives to media diversity … and pledges to work with media entities and diverse stakeholders to develop common ground solutions to eliminate barriers to media diversity.”

The resolution passed the House with a voice vote.

“Over the past year we have heard the growing calls for diversity in positions of power and listened to the millions of Americans who know, as we do, that representation matters,” said Energy & Commerce Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Communications & Technology Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) in a joint statement. “We must eliminate barriers to media diversity and provide all Americans the opportunity to engage with more independent and local media outlets that reflect the people of our diverse nation. Today’s resolution reaffirms our commitment to seeing that done, and we thank our colleagues for their strong, bipartisan support.”

NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith provided the following statement in response to the bill’s passage:

“NAB applauds today’s passage by the House of Representatives of a resolution pledging lawmakers’ support for working with media organizations to increase diversity within the media industry …. America’s broadcasters thank Rep. Val Demings and Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) and Sens. (R-Fla.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) for their leadership on this issue, and reaffirm our commitment to creating a more diverse media landscape.”

Smith’s statement also touched upon legislation sponsored by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) that would reinstate the Minority Tax Certificate Program, which NAB believes would create more opportunities for diverse radio and TV station ownership, including among women and people of color. 

When the tax certificate program was in place between 1978 and 1995, NAB says that minority ownership in broadcast stations increased by more than 550%.