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MMTC, NABOB Detail How Initiatives Impact Minority Broadcasters

Minority-oriented organizations like some, suggest modifications of others

Two minority broadcast advocacy groups want the Federal Communications Commission to understand how key issues in broadcast regulation are impacting minority broadcasters and consumers.

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters focused on several key categories that will be impacted by ongoing FCC initiatives, including FCC’s media ownership order that is expected to be voted on at the Nov. 16 FCC meeting.

When it comes to broadcast operations and transactions, the groups praised the FCC’s recent decision on the main studio rule and the way in which the commission has handled First Amendment issues.

Yet when it comes to the commission’s efforts on pirate broadcasting, the two groups said the FCC’s cuts on piracy enforcement have been problematic. “We are hopeful these cuts can be reversed,” the letter said. “The FCC also needs additional enforcement powers to effectively shut down pirates.”

The two organizations are also urging the commission to update its radio technical rules when it comes to being able to relocate a transmitter. “Rural radio and related policies prevent relocation of suburban transmitters into central cities even when there are no engineering impediments to relocation,” the group said, referring to their findings that minority broadcasters are often broadcasting from suburban locations while trying to reach distant segregated inner-city communities. The commission should consider correcting some of the “present effects of past discrimination,” the letter said.

The two groups also expressed concern about a proposal to eliminate AM/FM radio subcaps, which limit the number of AM or FM stations a company may own in a market. Such an elimination would could put minority-owned stations at a competitive disadvantage, they said.

In addition, the groups expressed concerns about the commission’s proposal to allow use of waivers in regard to broadcast ownership.

The MMTC and NABOB expressed support for several proposals, however, including revamping the broadcast-newspaper cross-ownership rule, and an initiative to revive a minority-focused incubator program. The two also pressed the FCC to move forward on encouraging multilingual emergency broadcasting and upgrade its EEO enforcement to discourage broadcasting employment discrimination.