FCC recently opened proceedings to review ownership rules
Media consolidation squeezes women and minority owners out of the market, a new study has found, prompting an FCC commissioner to call the situation “a national disgrace.”The study, released Wednesday, is a collaborative effort between two watchdog groups — the lefty Free Press and the Consumer Federation of America. Findings show that while women account for 51% of the U.S. population, they own fewer than 5% of television stations; minorities make up a third of the population but own only 3.26% of stations. In addition, women and minority ownership has increased in other industries over the last decade, but it has decreased in broadcast, according to the study. “There is something terribly wrong when women and minorities comprise such substantial parts of the U.S. population but own so few broadcast television stations,” FCC commissioner Michael Copps, a vocal critic of consolidation and a Democrat, said in a statement. “This isn’t just a problem. It’s a national disgrace. “This time the FCC needs to look before it leaps into another abyss. We just should not be voting again on changing media ownership rules unless and until we have tackled this problem and come up with initiatives to redress a crying national need.” The FCC recently opened proceedings to review media ownership rules and restrictions. “A bad situation has gotten worse while the FCC sat idly by and did nothing,” said Jonathan Adelstein, Copps’ fellow Democratic commissioner, in a statement. “We have a legal and moral obligation to take immediate steps to make broadcast media and coverage more diverse. This study shows that allowing more media concentration will only aggravate what is already a pitiful lack of minority voices over the airwaves,” he added. “Media ownership and diversity are very important issues that will be addressed in the media ownership proceeding begun in June,” said FCC spokesman Clyde Ensslin. Chairman Kevin J. Martin has said he will hold at least six public hearings on the overall subject, and minority ownership is to be among topics explored.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more