NAACP, Others Say They Don't Support FCC Loosening Cross-Ownership
'Clarify' to commission that support would only come with showing of no harm to diversity, a showing they say commission has not made
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/6/2012 7:11:28 PM
In a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski on Thursday, Dec. 6, the National Urban League (NUL), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said they were writing to clarify their position.
While in a filing to the FCC on media ownership the groups did say they would not object to relaxing the rule, they wrote this week; they only did so with the explicit caveat that "if such a relaxation would not diminish minority ownership."
They say they say any implication that their support does not require that evidence, which they say the FCC has not provided, is not correct.
"The Commission should not move ahead with any changes to the NBCO until a credible, objective and data-based analysis of the impact of such changes is completed. We do not believe that that analysis has been completed."
FCC chairman Genachowski has proposed loosening the rule, which retaining local ownership caps and even strengthening them. He has pointed out that the FCC has collected comment from the public and did take diversity into account by way of the 323 ownership survey released Nov. 14. In addition, he has extended the comment period on that survey by 30 days.
But the groups said that was insufficient time to analyze and comment on the report and on whether relaxation of the NBCO will diminish minority ownership.
It has been a year since the FCC under Genachowski signaled it planned to loosen the NBCO ban, and five years since the FCC under then-chairman Kevin Martin voted to do so.
The FCC has yet to complete court-ordered review of separate diversity initiatives voted at the same time as Kevin Martin's attempt to loosen the NBCO. There are reports that lack of funding is one issue with their tardiness. "We are extremely disappointed by the Commission's failure to undertake the required analysis to create a set of rules that advance minority ownership," they wrote. "At a minimum, this requires the Commission setting aside necessary funding to undertake the analysis needed to create these solutions."
The chairman reportedly is separating the two issues, trying to loosen the NBCO per the FCC's quadrennial regulatory review and the Third circuit's remand of the rules while dealing with the separate diversity initiatives and the studies on how to better justify them in a separate item.
His critics are arguing the two cannot be separated.
Copies of the letter were sent to leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee, both of which have oversight of the FCC.
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