Paxson on minority bandwagon

Topper outlines ownership proposal

Affirmative action plans are the rage among broadcasters these days, thanks to a challenge to the industry laid down earlier this year by Federal Communications Commission chairman William Kennard.

But altruistic motives are mixed with a desire to blast through FCC regs that cap TV station ownership at 35% of U.S. TV households, ostensibly to prevent any one company from gaining a stranglehold on the airwaves.

First News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch made waves by reportedly pitching a plan to set up a $100 million pot of seed money to help increase the ranks of minority TV station owners — provided the FCC waives the 35% national audience cap for Fox.

Now Paxson Communications topper Lowell Paxson has put forth a plan calling for established media companies to fund efforts by first-time minority entrepreneurs to acquire or even build new TV stations. The financial backers would be allowed to own up to 33% of the equity in the stations without having that stake count toward their 35% coverage cap.

Paxson, which owns more than 75 stations and plans to launch the Pax Net web next month, said Thursday the company is already working on deals for similar joint ventures with “a female Hispanic licensee — and an experienced African American broadcaster.”

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