Robert McDowell says he hears the hollers.
“We have been yelled at about the Iraq war, global warning, the tyranny of America’s copyright laws and the need to legalize drugs,” so said the FCC Commissioner in discussing the commission’s media ownership hearings.
In a speech to the Media Institute, McDowell said oral testimony during the hearings on the topic has been quite emotional.
Speaking about minority ownership, he argued that whatever the agency does must withstand court scrutiny. Otherwise, adopting rules that could be struck down on appeal would hurt the people the rules were intended to help, he stated.
“One of our ownership studies … finds that women and people of color are clearly underrepresented in the radio, TV and newspaper industries — no surprise there, sadly,” stated the GOP commissioner in prepared remarks.
“But it also finds that this pattern holds across a broad sampling of industries at relatively similar rates, so that the radio, TV and newspaper businesses are not unique.”
He sees the most promise in efforts to revive the minority tax certificate program, which allowed capital gains on a station sale to be deferred to a minority buyer, he believes. Bills in Congress would revive the program.
Incentives giving sellers an economic interest to sell to minorities or small businesses may be the most effective way of increasing minority ownership, McDowell believes.