Copps Calls For 'Race-Conscious Remedies'
July 30, 2008 at 5:09 AM (PT)
Commissioner MICHAEL COPPS advocated for "race-conscious remedies" for increasing minority ownership of broadcast stations at the FCC en banc hearing and conference on minority ownership in NEW YORK TUESDAY.
"I believe it is absolutely essential that we work toward race-conscious remedies if we are serious about reversing the sad state of minority ownership," said COPPS. "I also believe that we missed a real opportunity last DECEMBER when the majority refused to adopt a definition of 'eligible entity' any more targeted than the 'small business' definition that many minority advocates said would do no good at all. At a minimum, while we work on crafting a race-conscious definition along the lines I have mentioned, we should be implementing now a 'full-file review' process used by number of institutions across the country. In the absence of such action, we are left with a situation wherein most of whatever new initiatives we may adopt—and we have adopted some—will generally end up benefiting companies run by white men."
"When we live in a nation that is approaching one-third minority population," said COPPS, "the fact that people of color own three percent of full-power commercial television stations indicates that something is seriously askew—economically, socially and, I hazard, morally."
McDowell: Localism Rules Could Hurt Local Programming
For his part, Commissioner ROBERT MCDOWELL voiced concern that the Commission's localism initiatives could, "ironically, result in less of the local programming and service at which minority and women-owned stations excel. Rules such as requiring permanent advisory boards to ascertain local community needs, 24/7 staffing of stations in this age of technological advances, and reversing course on our main studio rule after 25 years, will only take scarce station resources away from expensive propositions such as locally oriented and locally produced programming.
"Similarly, our new Form 355 burdens the best local stations more than less responsible ones by requiring them to dedicate more resources to reporting all the good things they do for their communities, instead of just doing them. Broadcasters estimate that the new Form 355 requires at least one full-time person to fill out. That’s their only job all day: filling out the form. Having to hire an additional person can mean the difference between a small station surviving or having to sell. How ironic: a regulation that ostensibly was intended to promote diversity may actually extinguish more local voices. I hope we do not head back in time –- in the wrong direction –- towards the requirements the Commission discarded decades ago."