Genachowski, McDowell: More should be done to promote minority, female broadcast ownership

Addressing a gathering of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) in Washington, D.C., last week, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski noted the commission continues to be concerned about a lack of minority- and female-owned full-power broadcast outlets.

Noting the concern is bipartisan, Genachowski told those assembled Sept. 25 for NABOB’s 33rd Annual Fall Broadcast Management Conference the status of minority and female ownership has not changed much since his previous tenure at the commission.

“While minorities comprise 34 percent of the U.S. population, studies indicate that they own just 3 percent of full-power commercial television stations and 8 percent of full power commercial radio stations,” he said. “And while women represent 50 percent of the population, they own only 5 percent of full power commercial television stations and just 6 percent of full power radio stations.”

Recommendations from the Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity were adopted last week that are aimed at promoting minority ownership in the communications industry, he said. They include a request that the commission focus efforts on “broadband adoption, education and training” to increase opportunities for small businesses and those owned by minorities and females. The committee also requested the commission restore the designated entity program to promote these opportunities.

Genachowski prefaced his statements by acknowledging the challenges that facing the broadcast industry today. “For many, there is a ‘Perfect Storm’ quality to what is happening and that is very concerning to me and other policymakers,” he said. The recession, changing technology and shrinking advertising spending are converging to buffet traditional business plans, he said.

Speaking to the gathering Sept. 24, FCC commissioner Robert McDowell said efforts are underway to advance diversity initiatives at the commission. The commissioner said he has expressed interest in working with Congress to advance tax incentives to promote ownership of broadcast outlets by economically disadvantaged business.