The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Media Diversity & the FCC: Why you should care

The way the public looks at issues - and whether or not the public is even aware of certain issues like fair housing and voter discrimination - is directly related to the way these issues are covered by media. The way that media covers these issues is directly related to who is employed by the media – the reporters, producers and anchors who tell the stories. Who is employed by the media is directly related to who owns the media. And who owns the media is directly related to policies that determine who gets a federal license to operate and who does not.

The FCC is poised to eliminate the rule on "newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership," which prevents companies from owning a television or radio station and the major daily newspaper in the same area. If the cross-ownership ban is removed, along with other FCC-proposed rule changes, a single company could potentially own the major daily newspaper, eight radio stations and three television stations, as well as the cable television system - all within the same town.

The FCC may also change the local ownership caps that limit a company from owning more than one television station in most markets. Currently, a company can own two in larger markets as long as there are at least eight other competitors. The FCC may change the rule to allow a single company to own two TV stations in smaller markets (those areas with only 5 stations). And the FCC may allow a single owner to control three stations in the country's largest markets.

The struggle for a media that presents the breadth and diversity of the experience of all Americans is one of extremely high stakes:

  • If a company can buy a wide variety of media in the same community, it essentially provides one voice, not many. This means less diversity of viewpoints.
  • If minorities, women, seniors, people with disabilities, are not employed at news operations at all levels of management, there is no one who can speak with some authority about their condition and the people who are like them in the community. This means less coverage of issues of importance to these constituencies.
  • And if there isn’t local integration in the management of a local news operation, issues important to local communities can be ignored. This means the public interest isn’t being served. 

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