FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn addressed the NAB’s first Capital Assets Conference on Financing Minority and Women Ownership in Broadcasting this week.
This was her first public appearance since the inauguration of President Trump and since Ajit Pai was named FCC chairman. She is now the lone Democrat — and woman — on the commission; there are two vacant seats currently.
Clyburn spoke about the importance of increasing diversity in media ownership, and she laid out her plan for changing this, dubbed the “#Solutions2020 Call to Action Plan.”
First, she called for the reinstatement of the FCC’s Minority Tax Certificate Program. She also suggested that the commission create pilot incubator program to promote women and minority ownership. Clyburn also name-checked NAB Education Foundation’s Broadcast Leadership Training Program and suggested that more conferences and programs be established with this goal.
Clyburn’s next suggestion was to use the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Independent Programming in order “to enhance the voices of independent and diverse programmers outside of the broadcast space”.
She also said that her trip to CES made her hopeful that “ATSC 3.0 could help to fulfill our goal of greater viewpoint diversity.”
Although she did not posit a solution, Clyburn reminded attendees “even when capital is available, securing a license for a full-power television or radio station in a major market, may not be within reach.” She also said that station ownership should not be the only focus of diversity efforts but also “in front of and behind the camera” — and arguably behind the microphone, too.
“My goal is to increase the number of diverse stations and create more unique local voices, not fewer,” Clyburn said. “My belief is that the business case exists to make this happen and that it can be done without stunting investment in the industry. So I boldly challenge each of you to come up with a better framework than the one reaffirmed by the commission this summer, because a better framework is not only needed, it is justified by the figures we continue to quote and bemoan.”
She also affirmed the NAB’s efforts by saying events “that bring broadcasters, bankers and investors together in one room, are important steps toward achieving a media marketplace that serves the unique interests of all Americans.”