Press Release Media Consolidation

Public Knowledge Applauds House Energy and Commerce’s Commitment to Media Diversity

September 9, 2020 ,

Today, the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee marked up the “Expanding Broadcast Ownership Opportunities Act of 2019” (H.R. 3957) and the “Enhancing Broadcaster Diversity and Inclusion by Verifying and Ensuring the Reporting required by Statute Is Transpiring and Yielding Data (DIVERSITY) Act” (H.R. 5564). These bills would incentivise the sale of traditional media to historically marginalized groups and require the Federal Communications Commission to collect more accurate employment and ownership data, respectively. 

The “Expanding Broadcast Ownership Opportunities Act of 2019” reinstates the tax credit program that was incredibly successful at facilitating ownership of established media by women and Black, Indigenous, and people of color. The “Enhancing Broadcaster DIVERSITY Data Act” would require that the FCC collect employment statistics and media ownership statistics for diversity to give more transparency into who owns traditional media companies and whom they employ. Both bills work in concert to provide the means and the data by which the FCC should approach media diversity successfully. 

Public Knowledge supports both bills and commends Rep. Butterfield and Rep. Clarke for their leadership in championing the need for meaningful diversity in traditional media.

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

“When the tax certificate program was created and enacted between 1978 and 1995, minority ownership of television and radio stations quintupled. Since then, minority television ownership stands at 2.6% and is dropping fast, and minority radio ownership is stagnant at about 5%. At a time when America is more diverse than it ever has been, these numbers are abhorrent. 

“We applaud Rep. Butterfield and Rep. Clarke for their leadership on this crucial issue, as reinstating the tax certificate program and making sure that the FCC is collecting employment and ownership data are crucial first steps to address the lack of diversity in broadcast media. I would also be remiss if I did not uplift the yeoman’s work that Rep. Rush and former Rep. Rangel did on media diversity for years, trying to rectify what was a mistake by Congress to not continue this program. 

“As we can see in the news media now, diverse voices, especially the voices of Black, Indigenous, people of color, and women, are needed now more than ever in this media landscape.”