The National Hispanic Media Coalition (“NHMC”) yesterday filed comments concerning the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) recently released data on ownership of broadcast stations by women and people of color. While the report revealed pitifully low levels of ownership by these groups, the restrictive comment period provided by the FCC did not allow NHMC to offer a complete analysis of the data. This comment deadline comes as the FCC appears poised to relax many of its current media ownership rules.
In its comments, NHMC reminds the FCC that it has an obligation to fully consider the impact of any rule changes on media ownership by women and people of color. NHMC points out that this obligation comes from both statute and from a series of decisions by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which has twice remanded FCC action related to this issue. NHMC concludes that the FCC has not yet met its obligation - either through the release of data or through the unusually short opportunity for public review of that data. NHMC urges the FCC to maintain its current media ownership limits until it is able to fully consider the impacts of any rule changes on ownership diversity.
“If the FCC believes that its actions to this point have sufficiently met the significant obligations it faces, it is sorely mistaken. At best, the FCC has completed the first step of a five-step process to full compliance with statute and court mandate. While the release of this data was a step forward, there is still a lot of work that must be done prior to any relaxation of these longstanding rules. Without investing in completing this work, ownership of media outlets by women and people of color could get even worse,” said Jessica Gonzalez, Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs of NHMC.
NHMC also joined comments by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which were submitted to the FCC yesterday.