Minorities have made small gains in ownership of commercial broadcast outlets, according to a government report released by Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. The report, Changes, Challenges, and Charting New Courses: Minority Commercial Broadcast Ownership in the United States, provides the latest data on minority ownership, assesses the impact on minority ownership of the recent trends in industry consolidation, and highlights the challenges facing minority owners as they seek to maintain or expand their broadcast properties.
Secretary Mineta said, "Our nation has a long-standing commitment to minority ownership in the broadcast industry because of its role in ensuring diversity of voices. With minorities owning less than 4 percent of all commercial broadcast stations in the U.S., we need to address the issue of how we can do more to promote minority participation."
"As we work hard to include more minorities in new media, let us not forget the critical role of minority voices and culture for television and radio," Secretary Mineta said.
The report, produced by the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), found that 3.8 percent of full power commercial radio and television stations are licensed to minorities, 0.9 percentage points over 1998, when the last survey was conducted. The report also found that while minority broadcasters owned about 4 percent of commercial AM and FM stations, about 426 stations, minorities owned less than 2 percent of commercial television stations in the U.S.
Gregory L. Rohde, assistant secretary of commerce and NTIA administrator, said: "While minority broadcasters have made gains in ownership of radio stations, the number of full power television stations owned by minorities is at the lowest level since NTIA began issuing reports in 1990. We must maintain our nation's traditional commitment to diversity in broadcasting."
Rohde added: "Our report shows that the most successful minority owners are those with who have worked in the business and who have access to capital. The industry is to be commended for establishing the means for potential broadcast entrepreneurs to gain the business experience and financing they need."
The report also noted there is no consistent definition of "minority ownership," and underscored the need for issues such as equity participation and control to be part of a revised definition.
The report also found:
All minority groups have increased their radio ownership since 1998. In terms of absolute growth, the number of Hispanic-American-owned stations increased the most with the addition of 57 stations, followed by an increase of 43 African-American-owned stations. Despite the dramatic percentage growth during the period in Asian-American and Native-American radio ownership of 300 percent and 25 percent, respectively, the number of actual Asian-American-owned stations rose by 18, while Native-American ownership increased by three stations.
African Americans' ownership of 211 radio stations in 2000 continues to lead that of other minorities and represents almost half of all minority-owned radio stations. Hispanic-American owners, however, increased their holdings to 187 from 130 stations in 1998, giving them 44 percent of all minority radio stations.
At a time when single-station owners are struggling to remain competitive, the majority of minority owners operate stand-alone stations. In 2000, only 131 minority-owned stations were part of a duopoly. The figure accounted for 5.2 percent of duopolies compared to those involving 2,351 non-minority stations in the studied Designated Market Areas (DMA). In addition, only 19 minority stations were part of a "combo" in which the owner possessed another station of a different service, either AM or FM, within the same market. Of a total 241 local marketing agreements within the DMAs where minority stations broadcast, 17 involved minority-owned properties.
As reported in past years, minority owners continue to own more AM than FM stations. In 2000, minorities owned 248 AM stations and 178 FM facilities. Declining AM listenership over the past 15 years and the technical limitations of these stations make them generally less profitable than FM stations.