FCC to Improve Minority, Female Broadcast Ownership

The FCC today issued an Order and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNRPM) to improve how it collects data on minority and female broadcast ownership in order that the agency can more accurately assess and effectively promote diversity of ownership in the broadcast industry. In its order, the Commission adopted changes to reporting requirements on FCC Form 323.

In so doing, the Commission addressed and corrected deficiencies in its data-gathering methods that were identified by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, researchers, and commenters. The order stated, "Currently the Commission does not possess reliable data on the precise status of minority and female ownership -- data that we will need to establish and maintain effective policies over time that the courts will insist upon if the Commission chooses to pursue more race- or gender-based approaches."

Changes to the reporting requirement include removing the filing exemptions currently applicable to full-power commercial stations owned by individuals or partnerships of natural persons and setting a uniform biennial filing date for stations filing ownership information on Form 323. The FCC will also stride to improving data retrieval by modifying reporting procedures so that ownership data can be incorporated into the FCC database.

Additionally, the FNRPM asks for comment on potential changes to the Ownership Report filed by non-commercial licensees of AM, FM and TV broadcast stations, which currently does not ask gender, race, or ethnicity questions. The FNRPM also asks whether the Commission should collect similar information from Low Power FM licensees.

"If you look at it narrowly, today's item seems to be all about data -- in particular, collecting better data on the state of minority and female broadcast ownership. It may not wow you at first or sound like all that much. But it should be music to the ears of anyone who cares about reversing the shameful state of affairs in which we find ourselves," said Acting Chairman Michael J. Copps.

Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein added, "I enthusiastically support today's Report and Order, which takes a major stride in assessing and promoting diversity in the broadcast industry. This item is long overdue. For decades, women and people of color have been underrepresented in broadcast ownership."


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