Rev. Jackson Backs FCC's Grain Management Waiver - Broadcasting & Cable

Rev. Jackson Backs FCC's Grain Management Waiver

Signals minority spectrum ownership should not follow same script as broadcast precedent
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The Rev. Jesse Jackson is among those who supports the FCC's decision to grant a waiver to minority-run private equity firm, Grain Management, of rules that could have prevented it from getting FCC auction bidding credits for the upcoming AWS- 3 spectrum auction due to leases it had with major telecoms.

House Republicans were critical of the waiver, citing a Bloomberg News story that Grain, headed by David Grain, an Obama fund-raiser, was granted a waiver of the AMR (attributable Material Relationship) rule in a 3-2 nonpublic vote. "The waiver would permit Grain to circumvent commission rules designed to ensure the independence of small businesses that receive bidding credits in FCC auctions," they said.

But in a statement Friday, Jackson said he did not want politics to "engulf" the FCC's approval of the waiver for Grain, and presumably for similarly situated entities who sought a similar waiver.

Jackson has been critical of the impact of consolidation on minority participation in the broadcast media, saying it is a civil rights issue. He signaled he does not want access to broadband spectrum to follow the same script.

"Reading what could be interpreted as somewhat scathing remarks from those that offered their public dissent to the agency’s decision [that would include those unhappy Republicans], I’m reminded of a similar debate that eventually contributed – in no small part – to the abysmal number of minority-owned broadcasting radio and television stations we see today."

He criticized what saw as the politicizing of Grain's request for relief to participate as a bidder — not necessarily a winner — in the auction.

"Minority ownership in broadcasting is abysmal and if we don’t get off this political railroad, we will end up at a similar destination when it comes to minority spectrum ownership," Jackson said. "Rainbow PUSH supports the actions of the FCC to date," he said, which Rainbow PUSH spokesman Steven Smith confirmed meant he supported the Grain waiver among those.

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