Groups Push FCC To Provide Easy Access To Minority Ownership Data

Want to know why FCC hasn't released data most broadcasters turned in in July
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Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH and two dozen other groups have called on the FCC
to release data on how many women and minorities own broadcast outlets.

An FCC source says making that data available in an easily searchable form remains a priority for the commission.

Citing the agenda for the FCC's Feb. 8 meeting that includes
a status report on the agency's "fact-based data-drive decision
making," the groups want to know why the FCC hasn't released data
most broadcasters turned in in July and the FCC promised to make
accessible and searchable online.

While the groups conceded some of that info might be
available in the Media Bureau database, they said it was not yet available in a
"searchable, aggregated and cross-referenced" form and that Media
Bureau staffers could not say when it would be.

The FCC revised its data collection process in 2009, seeking
a November deadline, which was subsequently moved several times, ultimately to
July 2010, after complaints about the ability to file the information in the
FCC system.

"As the Commission considers how to improve the
agency's fact-based, data-driven decision-making at its February 8th meeting,
the signers to this letter are writing to express concern over the Commission's
lack of comprehensive, reliable, and searchable information concerning the
extent of broadcast station ownership by minorities and women," the groups
said in a letter to the FCC commissioners. "Fourteen months have passed
since the revised Form 323s were due to be filed. More than six months
have passed since the revised Form 323s were actually filed. More than
four years have passed since the problems with the earlier filing process were brought
to the FCC's attention. Yet, the public still lacks meaningful access to the
data in a searchable, aggregated, and cross-referenced format."

Among those also signing on to the letter was the National
Organization for Women, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Office of
Communication, Inc. of the United Church of Christ, Media Access Project, and
Free Press.

"This issue is a priority for the Commission and we are working hard to make the data available in a more easily accessible format," said a senior FCC official who asked not to be identified. "It should be noted, however, that the raw data is publicly available in the interim."

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