Minority groups ask FCC to vote on 'dozens' of ownership proposals

by John Eggerton, Multichannel News

A collection of 23 minority-targeted organizations have asked the Federal Communications Commission to get off the stick and vote on some of the "dozens" of minority ownership proposals that have been put in front of it.

That came in a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, with copies sent to key legislators and filed as comments in various open FCC dockets. They gave the chairman a shout-out, but had more than one bone to pick.

"From your eloquent letter of January 5, 2010 to Henry Rivera, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age, we know that you share our concern for the fact that minority ownership and employment in our industries are de minimis and in many respects nearing extinction," they wrote.

But they also criticized the agency for its December National Broadband Plan update for not including "even a mention of minorities or minority business enterprises."

The letter pointed out that the commission has a triennial obligation to report to Congress "identifying and elminating...market entry barriers for entrepreneurs and other small businesses..." Actually, it pointed out that the commission has yet to release its 2009 report, which the groups suggest would have to include that the commission has not voted on any of "dozens" of proposals, including ones endorsed by the FCC's own Diversity Committee.

They said they wanted the chairman to vote on "several" of those "long-pending, fully briefed and virtually unopposed proposals."

Led by the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, the groups, which included the NAACP, the Urban League, Rainbow PUSH, La Raza, the Spanish Broadcasters Association and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, ticked off items it said the commission failed to take up in 2009 (five months of which were under the new chairman).

They included 1) holding a hearing on Arbitron's Portable People Meters, which have been criticized for undercounting minorities; 2) even "minimal" enforcement of broadcast EEO rules or assigning a compliance officer to to enforce the FCC's 2007 Advertising Nondiscrimination Rule, which they argue could equal $200 million annually in advertising revenues not available to minority broadcasters because of racial discrimination; 3) repealing the Designate Entity rules they say led to minorities getting only $5 million worth of spectrum in the $19 spectrum billion auction.

article originally published at Multichannel News.

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