Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Lawsuit Cites Lack of Diversity in Radio, TV Ownership

Free Press, the Massachusetts-based nonpartisan organization that fights for the right to connect and communicate along with several allies, filed a reply brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on April 12, challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal and relaxation of several of its broadcast-ownership rules that limit media consolidation.

According to The Washington Informer, Free Press and its allies argue that under the administration of President Donald Trump, the FCC has, among other things, acted to exclude minorities from equal access to broadcast and media licenses and has used absurdly stringent qualifications requirements to keep minorities out of the licensing process.

In filing the lawsuit, Free Press officials said they’re seeking to increase the quantity, quality and responsiveness of local news on TV, radio and in newspapers, particularly for racial minorities and women.

In the reply brief, Common Cause, the Communications Workers of America, Free Press, the Media Mobilizing Project, the Prometheus Radio Project and the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc., reject claims by FCC lawyers and broadcasters that the groups lack legal standing to bring this case against the agency.

According to a news release, the groups state that the FCC has failed to meet its statutory obligation to promote race and gender diversity in broadcast-media ownership.

This failure is reflected in data showing that women and people of color are woefully underrepresented among broadcast-license holders — exacerbated by agency policies that carelessly promote further broadcast-ownership consolidation, and by the agency’s failure to consider how consolidation affects ownership opportunities for women and people of color, the organizations stated in the release.

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