Let’s Level the Playing Field, Please!

At this year’s NAB Show in Las Vegas, a group of FCC Commissioners addressed the state of “diversity” in radio. Reportedly, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn proposed the “state of ownership by women and people of color” is “too depressing to review.”It is no accident that the newly revised and released Form 323 ownership report is designed to elicit a better demographic profile of broadcast licenses. According to one report, Clyburn says helping minorities and women gain access to capital and financing is very much on the FCC’s mind.

It’s about time. The interesting thing is this: “if you lift up one, you lift up all”. Think of all the minorities, men and women; young entrepreneurs; and experienced managers who cannot get a foothold because the system is gamed against them. It all comes down to the money thing and those doors are closed to start ups and first timers. We can’t get financing; we can’t collateralize a license; there are no tax certificates or tax benefits to sellers unless the buyer is a non-profit; if you find a way to create a new allocation for a new station, it goes to auction and you get no first-come/first-served preference status.

Then, when new entrants pull a break and get a discount during the auctions, the discounts are taken back with interest if they sell within five years. Any profits are labeled “unjust enrichment”. Why is it “unjust” to realize a profit? The list is long as to how the playing field is tilted in the wrong direction. The very nature of the ownership rules tilts the playing field against localism and diversity. Why does it seem that Congress and the FCC only pay lip service to what we all know needs to be done?

That’s 30 For Now…For What It’s Worth.