FCC Hearing Broaches Media Ownership for Minorities

Panelists outline strategies to improve minority ownership

number of minority-owned broadcast facilities decreased by 40%. African American ownership decreased by 70% and there has been no female ownership since 1998.

“I am overcome by an ironic sense of Déjà vu,” says Frank Washington, owner of KBTV in Sacramento who played a critical role in the creation of the Minority Tax Certificate. “The minority tax certificate was only possible because of overwhelmingly positive public, industry, government and press support, if not outright pressure [on congress]. The impact of the certificate on minority ownership was unprecedented and undeniable.”

Finally, several panelists accused the “Portable People Meter”, the newest audience measurement technology by Arbitron as critically flawed and having a clear bias against the reporting of minority audiences. Arbitron is the company most used by advertisers to determine which stations they will advertise with.

“Radio stations live and die according to the audience ratings and market ranks reported by Arbitron,” said Winston as he prodded the FCC commissioners to investigate Arbitron. “Initial results from the PPM measurements have shown such huge rating declines for stations serving Black and Hispanic audiences that the financial survival of these stations will be at stake if Arbitron continues to implement PPM across the nation in the form it has been initially introduced.”

In a statement, Arbitron CEO Steve Morris initially said “PPM panels exceeds their sample targets for Blacks and Hispanics.” Later Morris acknowledged that at the suggestion of a the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters Inc. member, Arbitron plans to review their recruitment and compliance methodology aimed at Black and Hispanic households.

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