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House Energy and Commerce Should Not Support the Walden Incubator Program

September 8, 2020 , , ,
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Tomorrow, the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee will mark up a series of bills, which may include “The Broadcast Diversity in Leadership Act” as introduced by Greg Walden (R-OR) last week. The bill would create a “Broadcast Incubator Program,” led by the Federal Communications Commission, to enable broadcasters to form partnerships with new market entrants. Public Knowledge contends that passing this bill would actually make it more difficult to achieve media diversity by sidestepping what “diversity” means — particularly for members of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), not to mention women — while further entrenching the lack of diverse voices in media.

The following can be attributed to Bertram Lee, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“This callous attempt to conflate real diversity in media ownership, particularly by women and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), with viewpoint diversity ignores the diverse voices sorely needed in media right now. As this year’s protests have demonstrated, we need people of color telling the stories involving BIPOC communities to understand America as it is — and how it could be — now more than ever. 

“This bill mentions the importance of the voices of women and members of the BIPOC community, but then fails to address their needs by refusing to enumerate what ‘diversity’ means. This could actually make it more difficult — not less — for real diverse voices to break into the mainstream media market. Congress should not support sacrificing local media regulation for faux media diversity during one of the most critical times of our nation. The voices of marginalized people deserve uplifting, and we as the American public deserve better.”