WASHINGTON, DC - April 14 - The Government Accountability Office has released a report highlighting the dearth of female and minority-owned broadcast stations. The report, requested by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), found that the Federal Communications Commission lacks any "comprehensive data" on female and minority broadcast ownership.
Last December, in a 3-to-2 party-line vote, the FCC eliminated the longstanding ban on "newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership," which prohibits one company from owning both a major daily newspaper and a broadcast station in almost every market in this country.
Before pushing through with the vote, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin refused to convene an independent panel to account for the lack of TV and radio stations owned by women and people of color. Research by Free Press shows that racial and ethnic minorities own just 3 percent of the nation's TV stations, while women own 6 percent.
A "resolution of disapproval" that would nullify the FCC's decision is pending in both the Senate and the House.
S. Derek Turner, research director of Free Press, issued the following statement:
"This report confirms that the FCC is flying blind on media ownership. Without bothering to first conduct the most basic survey of who owns what, the FCC rushed through new rules that will have an immediate and lasting impact on media diversity. Bad data breeds bad policies.
"Our independent research suggests that these new rules will lead to fewer female and minority owners. It is unacceptable that the agency charged with fostering more media diversity has passed rules that will result in less. Congress needs to act quickly to veto the FCC's actions and restore the media ownership limits we need to keep consolidation in check."
Read the GAO media ownership report: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08383.pdf
Read more about the media diversity crisis in two Free Press reports: Off the Dial and Out of the Picture 2007.
Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net