Fourteen minority broadcasters have appealed directly to U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner for financial aid. The request comes as the Federal Communications Commission is collecting data on broadcast owners, both minority and other station owners.
Entravision, Spanish Broadcasting System, Inner City, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and others said the recession and credit crisis are threatening to make minority-owned stations “extinct.”
“It is particularly concerning that the percentage of minority ownership in the broadcast industry is currently in the low single digits,” they wrote. Financial foreclosure will roll back decades of work by the federal government to encourage more minority voices in the broadcasting industry, they state in the letter, which follows one last month sent by House leaders led by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn D-S.C. (father of FCC commissioner nominee Mignon Clyburn), as well as Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
The broadcasters and lawmakers seek federal financial aid to help restore credit flows to minority broadcasters, similar to what was done for the auto industry, until the economy improves. Unlike the auto business, they said, broadcasting has been healthy for many years and, upon a recovery, could shortly be restored to a path of growth with some temporary assistance, wrote the broadcasters. “Given the global credit crisis, plummeting ad revenues, no-minority dictates by advertisers, and changes in Arbitron audience measurement, which have further deflated ad pricing, the short-term financial outlook for our broadcasting companies is not good.”
If the Treasury does not want to enact a direct assistance program, it should consider demanding that lending institutions receiving federal funds extend credit and be flexible in restructuring that credit to ensure that minority broadcasters can weather this unprecedented financial storm, suggest the group.