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Honig Defends FCC Enforcement Advisory

‘The first new federal civil rights mandate since 1977’

The FCC’s action regarding broadcast advertising contracts is “the first new federal civil rights mandate since 1977 and the only one ever adopted without opposition.”

So says David Honig, co-founder of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council.

In a commentary published by the Huffington Post, Honig defended the commission’s enforcement advisory against critics. He said the FCC clearly has the authority to take this step and that the rule can easily be enforced.

“To be sure,” Honig continued, “advertisers know [non-urban /non-Spanish dictates] are morally wrong, which is why they’re seldom written down. Over the past two years I’ve collected over 60 NUDs and NSDs, and only three were in writing. But that doesn’t mean they’re a secret. Broadcast airtime sales is a small world, and a NUD or NSD is almost never a secret.

“When a broadcaster hears of a NUD or NSD,” Honig said, “the broadcaster should do exactly what it would do if it were confronted with a breach of any other provision of the contract: require the advertiser to demonstrate that there was no breach, or to cure the breach. If there is no explanation and no cure, the broadcaster should terminate the contract.” He says if standard contract compliance procedures are followed, “advertising discrimination will be dead within two years, and that won’t be soon enough.”

Criticism that the rule constitutes “affirmative action” is “completely off the mark,” he said. And though some critics believe aggressive enforcement will drive ads from broadcasting to other, less-regulated platforms, “the exact opposite is true. … As minority population growth accelerates in the coming years and decades, this audience share will grow rapidly. Alienating such a large segment of the audience will only motivate them to gravitate away from broadcasting to satellite and other audio delivery technologies.”

Honig called on the FCC to clarify how it will enforce the rule and what constitutes a violation, and said the commission must yet address MMTC’s petition for a rulemaking to expand the rule to cover other media providers.

Read his commentary here.