November 11, 2009

Minority Radio Ownership at a Standstill

7% of Radio Stations are Minority Owned; Study found only 6 stations in the country broadcast an Urban/News Format

Source: Richard Prince's Journal-ism
In the last two years, the number of commercial radio stations grew from 10,506 to 11,249.

But minority radio ownership has remained virtually flat over that time.
A report released Monday found that 815 of those stations, or 7.24 percent, were minority-owned. A similar study in 2007 put the figure at 7.76 percent.

The study was conducted by Catherine Sandoval, a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, partnering with Allen Hammond, also of the law school, and David Honig of the Washington-based Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, which lobbies for minority broadcast ownership.

The study's was undertaken to make recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission.

It urged the FCC to take the new figures into account when it reviews ownership rules next year. It wanted the agency to recognize that most owners of color obtained their stations before the Supreme Court restricted the FCC's ability to take race into account in awarding licenses and construction permits, and before the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which abolished limits on ownership of broadcast stations, squeezing out many smaller broadcasters.

The report noted that "74.7% of all minority-owned stations broadcasting programming air minority-oriented programming. This pattern refutes Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s assertion in Metro Broadcasting v. FCC (1990 . . .) that the proposition that minority ownership contributes to diversity is based on stereotypes. The correlation between minority radio ownership and diversity in program service is robust.

"The FCC should recognize minority broadcasters’ contributions to our nation’s democratic dialogue and analyze how its media ownership rules can ensure that minority broadcasters and the communities they serve thrive in the twenty-first century," it said.

Spanish was found to be the most popular format among minority commercial radio owners, airing on 291 or 35.7 percent of the 815 minority-owned radio stations.

Urban, African American targeted formats were broadcast on 135 minority-owned commercial stations. Six broadcast an “Urban News/Talk” format, airing a News/Talk format addressing African American community concerns, the study said. Read more

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