Minority Broadcasters to Meet With Obama Administration Officials Thursday

Will make case for emergency economic stimulus

Minority broadcasters will meet with top Obama administration officials Thursday to make their case for some emergency economic stimulus in the face of "body blow after body blow" in the economic crisis.

That is according to Inner City Broadcasting Chairman Pierre Sutton in an op-ed published Wednesday (Aug. 5) in the New York Daily News.

"No new laws would have to be passed. The Treasury Department can easily tap into funds already appropriated under the Troubled Asset Relief Program," he wrote, "which has helped to restore credit flows to the financial and domestic automobile supplier industries. Bridge financing or government-backed loans could also be provided until the financial system recovers."

Saying the DTV transition has left "many low-income families stranded," Sutton argues that minority-owned radio stations are the last free over-the-air options for millions of those families.

Sutton says the blows include banks and lenders driving out diversity as they become de facto owners, Arbitron's Portable People Meters, which some minority broadcasters complain undercount their numbers (the FCC and congress are looking into the claim); and ad cutbacks, particularly auto industry.

Susan Crawford, special assistant to the president for science, technology, and innovation policy, last month said the FCC would tackle media ownership issues early on, but also said that broadband, rather than broadcasting, was where they and other policymakers would be focused.

"Millions of Americans rely on over-the-air broadcasting, she told a Minority Media & Telecommunications Conference in Washington. "The administration understands the important role traditional terrestrial broadcasting continues to play," she said, pointing to the high radio listenership of minorities as one example of that importance.

The administration "seeks to encourage opportunities for minorities and women to own radio and television stations," she said, adding: "We support the expression of diverse viewpoints as fundamental to the health of our civil society."

She also said that the FCC's diversity committee would be a key advisor in the coming months.

But Crawford also said that the FCC's broadband plan is the future of diversity. "This is the chance to talk about our future as a country...and the importance of the diversity of voices informing those policies."

Crawford also said the Small Business Administration was helping free up capital for small businesses.