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FCC Launches Study on State of Diversity on TV

The FCC is launching an inquiry into the state of program diversity, including the obstacles that independent programmers still face in obtaining carriage on video platforms.

“This is a simple issue — how do we expand diversity of choice and opportunity,” said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. The notice of inquiry moved forward unanimously.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel noted that they were launching the inquiry at a time when there are concerns over the lack of diverse Oscar nominees and the dearth of female directors.

It’s unclear what potential action the FCC could take to boost program diversity, if it takes any action at all.

Commissioner Ajit Pai noted that one of the few Indian American characters he saw on TV growing up as a kid was Hadji, the character on “Jonny Quest.” But that has changed considerably in recent years, as there are now more outlets for content “than ever before.”

He voted for the notice of inquiry, but cautioned, “We should be careful not to hold back this video revolution.”

The inquiry seeks comment on contractual provisions in program carriage agreements, such as most favored nation and alternative distribution method clauses. It also asks for comment on negotiations tactics, program bundling and distribution via over-the-top platforms.

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