National Support Grows for FCC to Adopt Rule Change to Empower Minority-Owned Media Businesses

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

There is a growing national momentum of support among civil rights organizations, communications experts and media business leaders who are encouraging the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) to adopt the proposed rule change that will help to empower minority-owned media businesses throughout the nation.

Black-owned radio stations and other minority-owned media businesses should be permitted by the FCC to compete fairly, equitably, and diversely with large television and cable stations that have been already granted the right by the FCC to geotarget audiences across America.

The established strategic alliance between The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB), the Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council (MMTC), and other related national organizations is working diligently to ensure greater diversity, equity and inclusion in our nation’s communications industry.

Today the issue of geotargeting of content to diverse and underserved communities is a critical and crucial threshold that minority-owned media businesses should have the right to engage accordingly. We believe it is time now for the FCC to act and to vote favorably for this important rule change.

Local radio stations are the only ad medium not permitted to geotarget their audiences. Currently FCC rules prohibit content origination on FM boosters that preclude an innovative technology for local FM stations to offer over-the-air geotargeting. There is an FCC rulemaking proceeding now underway that would change the rule and let local radio stations do what all other local ad-supported media do with respect to geotargeted content and ads. Importantly, the rule change would allow stations to voluntarily adopt the geotargeting technology, but would not mandate it. The proposed rulemaking change will substantially increase the access to geotargeting by minority-owned radio stations and other minority-owned businesses that is so vital and effective in today’s global and national media marketplace.

The FCC has authorized experimental tests of the new technology in San Jose, California and Jackson, Mississippi. The test in Jackson was conducted on a Black owned station that serves a Black audience. The results of both tests show that the technology works exactly as predicted and that it can provide a very effective method of geotargeting to specific areas.

The proposed FCC rulemaking change is supported strongly by the major national civil rights organizations including the NAACP, National Urban League, National Action Network, National Council of Negro Women, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Congress of Black Women, Hispanic Federation, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, and the U.S Black Chambers.

In conclusion, I reiterate again the point I made in a previous letter on this subject to the FCC: “I have spent much of my career as a civil rights leader focused on ensuring that technological developments like the one at issue in this proceeding lift all of America, and not just some of us. Too often, I have seen the benefits of technological development accrue to the privileged, with little or no benefit to disadvantaged communities, including some with which I work on a daily basis.”

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr, is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and Executive Producer/Host of The Chavis Chronicles (TCC) on PBS Television Stations across the nation. He can be reached at dr.bchavis@nnpa.org

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