Media Justice

FCC expands minority ownership data collection

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

As advertised, acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps has begun laying the data foundation for boosting minority and female ownership of broadcast properties. Copps said that the order may seem to be all about data, but that it should be "music to the ears of anyone who cares about reversing the shameful state of affairs in which we find ourselves."

Copps has said he wanted to tee up the issue of minority ownership for his successor, and did so Wednesday at the commission's April public meeting.

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Double standard: missing black women still get less media than whites

Jan Ransom, Black Politics on the Web

Average looking men, women and children from a variety of economic, social and ethnic backgrounds made up the more than 105,000 active missing persons in America last year, according to the National Crime Information Center. However, national media operations often fail to present what is in fact a very diverse missing persons population – African-Americans. And some observers believe race is the factor.

“There is a culture in America that tends to sympathize with the blond White woman instead of the braided black woman,” said Ernie Suggs, vice president of print for the National Association of Black Journalists. “There has always been a certain level of interest, a certain fascination with White missing persons … Americans identify with who they want to be.”

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Plunging economy is threatening ethnic press

Associated Press

The sinking economy is threatening the ethnic publications that immigrant communities rely upon to stay informed and navigate American life. Although the ethnic press once seemed immune to the forces hurting mainstream newspapers across the country, a growing number of publications that serve immigrant and minority communities are laying off staff, closing print editions or shutting down altogether.

Unlike mainstream newspapers, which have seen circulation decline over the decades, most ethnic publications have been retaining or expanding their print readership base, thanks to the growth of immigrant populations with strong newspaper reading habits. But a severe recession has led to a steep drop in advertising from small businesses, including many owned by immigrants, that have come to rely on the ethnic press to reach these communities.

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Digital TV coupon program hampered from the start

Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY

"Do you really think this will work?" The question, posed by consumer advocate DeAnne Cuellar, was directed at Tony Wilhelm of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. It was February 2008, and Wilhelm, head of consumer education, had just explained the digital TV coupon program to a group of consumer advocates that included Cuellar.

The program, core to the government's plan to turn the USA into an all-digital TV market, offers $40 coupons — two per household — toward converter boxes that turn digital signals into analog. TVs that use antennas must have a converter; otherwise, they'll go dark once the switch happens. Cable and satellite TV customers aren't affected.

Cuellar, director of the Texas Media Empowerment Project in San Antonio, was concerned that the $1.34 billion program would run out of money before the nation's neediest — the poor, elderly and disabled — could apply. For many, she pointed out, free TV is their only connection to the outside world.

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Finding the power in women’s voices

Hannah Miller, On the Issues

A growing group of organizations work on what is called "media democracy," that is, changing the structure and legal framework of the media so that it reflects something a smidgeon closer to the actual public – including women.

In all its complexity, the media – TV and cable, newspapers and film, magazines and podcasts – can be understood quite simply: it's just a group of people sitting in a circle, talking to each other, debating over the issues they care about.

But in American culture – our common circle – some speakers are deemed important than others. Some speakers always go first and speak as long as they like; some utter a few words. More often than not, it is men who start the conversation, who carry the conversation, who are the very topics, and women who respond, stay silent, or are not discussed at all.

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Seattle hip hop community tackles tough issues at NW Hip Hop Leadership Conference

Julie Chang Schulman, NW Hip Hop Congress

Approximately 200 people came out from across the greater Seattle Area to participate in the 1st Seattle/NW Hip-Hop Leadership Council on Saturday February 28th at Seattle Central Community College,” wrote Wyking, co-convener of the event, “presented by the Seattle Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council, Bush School Diversity Speaker Series, UmojaFest P.E.A.C.E. Center and Seattle Central Community College Black Student Union, the conference provided a wealth of information beginning with history and socio-cultural analysis related to the hip-hop generation.”

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Protesting racist cartoon, Sharption calls for review of Murdoch's NY media ownership waiver

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

The Rev. Al Sharpton and several New York city council members want the FCC to pull News Corp.'s waiver that allows it to own two TV stations-WNEW and WWOR-serving the New York market. Sharpton's National Action Network is collecting signatures on an online petition in an effort to get the FCC to review the waiver, arguing it gives the company too much control of the media market. News Corp. also owns the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal.

The petition drive was prompted in part by a New York Post cartoon that used the killing of a rampaging chimpanzee to criticize President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package, suggesting to some an ugly slur from the nation's racist past. The Post apologized for offending anyone, but Sharpton and others were not assuaged.

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California immigrant rights groups protest racist reality show

Cindy Carcamom Orange County Register

Orange County residents on both sides of the illegal immigration debate will square off in front of ABC Disney studios in Burbank on Sunday, one group in protest and another in support of the network's television program "Homeland Security USA."

The reality TV show has sparked a torrent of both disdain and cheers in immigration Web chat rooms and the blogosphere, setting off petitions and e-mails in protest and support for the show, which first aired in January

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An Indigenous perspective on the Fairness Doctrine

Tim Giago, Huffington Post

How many of you remember a policy of the Federal Communications Commission known as the "Fairness Doctrine?"

The doctrine was an attempt by the FCC to "ensure that all coverage of controversial issues be balanced and fair. The FCC took the view in 1949 that radio station licensees were "public trustees," and thus had an obligation to give reasonable opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on controversial issues of public importance.

With the introduction of television, the FCC stood behind the Fairness Doctrine by setting down rules regulating personal attacks and editorializing by the stations. And in 1971 the FCC set requirements for the stations to report, along with their license renewal applications, the efforts they had made to seek out and address issues of concern to the community. This process became known as the "Ascertainment of Community Needs" and the job of carrying out this mandate was left in the hands of the station managers.

The "Fairness Doctrine" is in the air once again following the political campaigns of both parties. Questions of whether there was indeed a "balanced and fair" coverage of the candidates has sent waves of anger and perhaps fear, through the ranks of the more conservative talk show hosts on radio and television. Perhaps that apprehension should also be felt by those radio personalities on the more liberal and so-called progressive talk shows. Both sides were fairly liberal in their bashing of political candidates whose views they did not share.

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Hispanic media coalition wants tracking of hate speech on cable

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

In a petition to the Federal Communications Commission last week, the National Hispanic Media Coalition claims hate speech is "prevalent" on national cable-news networks and wants the government to do something about it. That was one of the assertions made by the group in a formal request that the commission open a notice of inquiry into "the extent, the effect and possible remedies" to what it said was a pervasive problem, and not just on conservative talk radio.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey