March 6, 2008
An Open Letter to the FCC,
The Harvard Black Law Students Association is greatly troubled that the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Kevin Martin ’93, visited our campus during Black History Month for an FCC Hearing hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and chose to ignore one of the single-most important issues on today’s communications landscape: the startling dearth of minority media ownership and the FCC’s pattern of anti-diversity policies aimed at women, rural communities, and minorities. As a result, the Harvard Black Law Students Association chose to support the NAACP’s protest against Martin’s “war on media diversity.”
It has become increasingly apparent that the FCC is not concerned with and will not address the needs of people of color and other minorities, despite a record of dissent from a plurality of widespread voices. Civic community leaders, minority activists, and members in Congress have called for a direct response to the charge of inequitable policy decisions, implicit discrimination, and disregard for minority contribution and ownership.
The FCC Chairman is intent on passing media concentration rules that will continue to give multinational companies oligopolistic power and control over the airwaves, pushing local and minority media stations out of business. It goes without saying that ownership is an important tool for empowerment, but the current Chairman has advocated a slate of policies that failed as legislation before Congress and will make it more difficult for members of the communities at issue to attain this important step towards economic and social equality. This is unacceptable.
In response to its own expectation that the Chairman’s policies will lead to a reduction in media ownership diversity, the FCC has proposed a minority leasing scheme – publicly derided by one Democratic Commissioner as “media sharecropping.”
It is our hope that the FCC will publicly address the aforementioned issues and allow members of the public an opportunity to be heard before implementing fundamental changes to the structure of broadcasting and network ownership.
The Harvard Black Law Students Association