Diversity in Media Ownership

Diversity in Media Ownership

  • Posted on: 30 June 2012

Media ConsolidationFake NewsRupert Murdoch ScandalVerizon/Cable DealCovert Consolidation

When you tune in to your local news, what do you see? Or more importantly, who do you see?

The typical nightly newscast often depicts people of color only via negative images of black men in handcuffs and Latinos invading our borders.

And women are vastly underrepresented in the news. 4th Estate's six-month study of 2012 election-year coverage found that major American newspapers and TV news programs featured up to seven times as many quotes from men than women. This held true even when “women’s issues” were the subject.

What happens when women and people of color are excluded from national conversations? Other people get to tell their stories … or the stories remain untold altogether.

This lack of accurate coverage — or of any coverage at all — relates directly to media consolidation. Mergers have kept female and minority media ownership at low levels:

Women comprise over 51 percent of the U.S. population but hold only 6 percent of all TV and radio station licenses.

People of color make up over 36 percent of the U.S. population but hold just over 7 percent of radio licenses and 3 percent of TV licenses.

As consolidation cuts back on the number of TV and radio station owners, women and people of color have fewer chances to become media owners and promote diverse programming.

The Federal Communications Commission is currently reviewing its media ownership limits. A federal court has twice rebuked the FCC for failing to even measure ownership levels, as well as failing to ensure ownership opportunities for everyone. The agency is considering relaxing its media ownership rules yet again — which would lead to even more media consolidation and even fewer ownership opportunities for underrepresented communities. Free Press is pushing the FCC to create rules that truly promote the virtues of localism and diversity.

Raise Your Hand If You Want Representation
Libby Reinish
June 27, 2012

Alright folks, let’s take a poll:

Raise your hand if you think our current media system covers the issues you care about and gives you the information you need to better understand the world around you. If your hand is up, lucky you. If your hand is down, you’re not alone.
Coalition to FCC: Take a Look at Black Radio
Joseph Torres
June 26, 2012

A few weeks ago, one the most popular radio stations in New York City — 98.7 KISS-FM — abruptly shifted gears. Without warning, it abandoned its urban programming and became a sports talk station.

What happened? Disney took over programming for the station.

The departure of KISS-FM leaves the country’s most populous city with only one urban adult contemporary station (WBLS 107.5) and without two of the nation’s most popular African American radio talk shows, the Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Michael Baisden Show.
Another Merger Signals Black Radio's Decline
Megan Tady
May 9, 2012

The merger of two legendary R&B radio stations in New York City is a major blow to diversity on the dial, and signals — yet again — that black radio is on the decline.

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Put Diverse Voices Ahead of Corporate Profits

Join the tens of thousands of people who have told the FCC to stop runaway media consolidation.
Sign the Petition »
Change the Channels!

Broadcasters are airing cookie-cutter newscasts in at least 83 of the nation's 210 television markets.
Sign the Petition »

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Press Releases

Free Press Pleased Supreme Court Denied Broadcasters’ Hail Mary Attempt
June 29, 2012

WASHINGTON -- On Friday, the Supreme Court rejected requests by members of the media industry to revisit the constitutionality of the Federal Communications Commission's media ownership rules. In December 2011 the National Association of Broadcasters, Media General, and Tribune Co. filed petitions for certiorari of the Prometheus II case, a U.S. Court of Appeals decision holding that existing FCC media ownership limits were both reasonable and constitutional.
Free Press: FCC Ownership Rules Ignore Court Mandate to Address Diversity Issues
March 6, 2012

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, Free Press filed comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to water down media ownership limits for local newspapers and broadcast stations. To read the comments go to: http://www.freepress.net/files/FP_Media_Ownership_Comments.pdf.
Free Press: FCC Must Address Barriers to Entry in Media Ownership
February 7, 2012

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it will solicit ideas for new research on barriers to entry for small businesses and underrepresented groups to participate in the communications and media industries.

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Who Owns the Media
June 12, 2012

The airwaves belong to all of us. Broadcasters don’t pay a cent for their use of this valuable public resource. They are required to do only one thing in return: help fulfill the news and information needs of the communities in which they broadcast.
Letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski Urging FCC to Make Diversity Issues a Priority in Upcoming Ownership Review
December 1, 2011

On Thursday, more than 50 groups representing a wide range of women’s, media and social justice organizations, including Free Press, sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to make diversity issues a priority in its upcoming media ownership review. The letter comes as the FCC hosts a hearing on media ownership in Atlanta on Thursday evening.
Letter to the FCC Regarding Its Data Innovation Initiative and Form 323
February 3, 2011

Twenty-five organizations, including the National Organization for Women, Rainbow PUSH, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Office of Communication, Inc.

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News from Around the Web

Coalition to FCC: Take a Look at Black Radio
Free Press
June 26, 2012

A few weeks ago, one the most popular radio stations in New York City -- 98.7 KISS-FM -- abruptly shifted gears. Without warning, it abandoned its urban programming and became a sports talk station. What happened? Disney took over programming for the station. And now coalition of African American, media justice and public interest groups as well as black media professionals and scholars are calling on the Federal Communication Commission to study the state of black radio and the devastating impact of media consolidation.
Media Outlets Unite to Boost Black Ad Buys
The Root
June 25, 2012

In an environment in which many marketers expect their advertising budgets to decrease and some brands are shifting their multicultural advertising to general market agencies, a consortium of media outlets and marketing agencies has formed to tout the spending power and habits of black consumers.
What I Said in Full to The Grio
Drums in the Global Village
June 25, 2012

New York has always been a leader in Black activism because its radical and progressive traditions transferred successfully to radio and television, giving a political and cultural education to multiple generations at the same time. Black people continued to count on Black radio in the 1980s, 1990s and even the 2000s to educate them politically and culturally, and to organize them. Losing WLIB and WBLS as a result of media consolidation will be a major setback for Black political socialization and community development.

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Media Consolidation

There are all sorts of benefits to a competitive media landscape. The more independent outlets a community has, the more different viewpoints will be presented on the air. But what happens when there’s no one left to compete? When one company owns everything in your town, it can cut staff and not worry about getting scooped by a competitor. The fewer reporters there are on the streets, the less journalism there is on the news. The fewer DJs there are at your local radio station, the more automated computers and pre-programmed playlists take over.
Covert Consolidation

When you turn on the nightly news, you expect to find competing viewpoints and different perspectives from one station to the next. But in communities across the country, stations that were once fierce competitors have cut staff and merged their newsrooms, in many cases airing the same content on multiple stations in the same market. You can try to change the channel, but all you'll see is the exact same newscast.
Verizon/Cable Deal

Verizon Wireless has struck a sweetheart deal with a cartel of cable companies — including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications — in which they’ve all but agreed to stop competing against one another. The new plan? To divide and conquer the growing mobile and broadband markets.

This wireless-cable deal comes in two parts. The first lets Verizon buy wireless spectrum — the public airwaves over which iPads, cellphones and radios receive data — that these cable companies teamed up to purchase in 2006.