MMTC Gives FCC Thumbs Up on Minority-Related Proposals - Broadcasting & Cable

MMTC Gives FCC Thumbs Up on Minority-Related Proposals

Minority Media & Telecommunications Council Recommended Most of the Initiatives Adopted by Federal Communications Commission
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The Federal Communications Commission got high marks from the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council for the raft of minority-related initiatives and proposals it released Wednesday.

That's not surprising since most of them were proposed by the MMTC.

The commission adopted those Dec. 18 as part of its effort to close the media-ownership-rule review by loosening the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules while adopting measures that it said would help minorities, as well as another package of initiatives on stations' public interest requirements.

"The FCC served the public interest by banning discrimination in broadcast advertising and transactions, revising the ownership-attribution rules … heightening protections against ownership fraud and authorizing several incentive programs to encourage the sale of stations to minorities," the MMTC said in praising the initiatives.

It was particularly pleased with the prohibition on broadcast-advertising discrimination, which it called the "most significant new federal nondiscrimination mandate in any industry in over 30 years," adding that it "should restore to minority broadcasters the $200 million or more they lose every year due to 'no urban' and 'no Spanish' dictates."

The FCC's order also:

• "Changes its construction-permit deadlines to allow ‘eligible entities’ that acquire expiring construction permits additional time to build out the facility”;

• "Revises the commission’s equity/debt plus (attribution standard to facilitate investment in eligible entities”;

• "Modifies the commission’s distress-sale policy to allow a licensee -- whose license has been designated for a revocation hearing or whose renewal application has been designated for a hearing on basic qualifications issues -- to sell its station to an ‘eligible entity’ prior to the commencement of the hearing”;

• "Adopts an Equal Transactional Opportunity Rule that bars race or gender in broadcast transactions”;

• "Adopts a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for ownership fraud and ‘fast-track’ ownership-fraud claims and seek to resolve them within 90 days”;

• "Requires broadcasters renewing their licenses to certify that their advertising-sales contracts do not discriminate on the basis of race or gender”;

• "Encourages local and regional banks to participate in SBA-guaranteed [Small Business Administration] loan programs in order to facilitate broadcast and telecommunications-related transactions”;

• "Gives priority to any entity financing or incubating an eligible entity in certain duopoly situations”;

• “Considers requests to extend divestiture deadlines in mergers in which applicants have actively solicited bids for divested properties from eligible entities”;

• "Convenes an ‘Access-to-Capital’ conference that will focus on the investment-banking and private-equity communities and opportunities to acquire financing”;

• "Announces the creation of a guidebook on diversity that focuses on what companies can do to promote diversity in ownership and contracting”; and

• "Revises the exception to the prohibition on the assignment or transfer of grandfathered radio-station combinations."

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