Minority Groups Make Last Effort to Delay Vote

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Consolidation critics continued to weigh in as the Federal Communications Commission prepared for a Tuesday-morning vote (10:30 a.m. scheduled start time) on relaxing newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules that chairman Kevin Martin said should wrap up the FCC's years-long media-ownership rule-revise process.

Martin's mailbox was probably starting to look like the judge's desk in Miracle on 34th Street as the letters from activists and legislators continued to pour in on the eve of that vote.

Making a last-ditch effort for a delay were a coalition of minority groups including the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Black Leadership Forum and the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

In their letter to Martin, Rainbow/PUSH and the others said they were troubled by Martin's push for a vote, saying that it should be postponed "until the issue of the lack of minority ownership is addressed."

Martin has argued that he is addressing those issues in a separate package of diversity initiatives also being voted on Tuesday, but the groups said those have been arrived at "without adequate data and any thorough study on the issue."

The coalition called on the chairman to create a diversity task force and to open a separate inquiry before voting on any changes.

"The issue of minority and female broadcast ownership is too important to be continuously ignored," they said. "Yet if you proceed with your package of votes ... you will have once again demonstrated the commission’s willful disregard of  this issue."

Rainbow/PUSH founder the Rev. Jesse Jackson argued that media ownership is a key civil-rights issue because control of the media translates into control of the issues on the nation's social agenda.

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