Diminishing Diversity in Media


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent U.S. government agency in charge of regulating interstate and international communications by radio, TV, satellite, cable and the internet. They approve mergers between media corporations (Disney+ABC, AT&T+DirectTV, Comcast+TimeWarner Cable, plus many more), create and regulate broadcasting regulations, handle net neutrality issues and among other things, revise media regulations so that new technologies flourish alongside diversity and localism.

In 1996, the Telecommunications Act was revised and made it easier for anyone to enter any communications business and to let any communications business compete in any market against another. With this new act, which claimed to foster competition, we saw many unintended consequences such as big media companies began to consolidate and buy out individually-owned media companies. There was an immediate decline in the total number of newspaper, radio and TV station ownership.

Here is 1 thing to know about the negative impact of the 1996 Telecommunications Act:

Minority and female-owned media owners have been left behind.

Unfortunately, many of the minority and female-owned stations have been bought out, or they’ve seen an increase in pressure to sell due to the higher concentration of stations and the resulting competition for advertising and programming contracts. While we do not know the terms of the acquisitions, it’s fair to assume that the majority of buy-outs included an overhaul of format, content and talent.

In an effort to serve it’s public interest, the FCC is tasked to increase the variety of voices in the public sphere, which I’d agree is achieved with diverse ownership.

Closing Thoughts:

  • As a minority female, it is my hope that female and minority-owners of media companies continue to innovate and capitalize on the untapped opportunities surrounding emerging media and the various channels for distribution. From podcasts and YouTube, to content creation opportunities via Amazon and social media, there is an abundance of access to carve out your niche.

  • Historically, media-ownership has been traditionally white male dominated, thus inequitable across racial and gender lines due to access to resources and opportunities. However, we should be mindful of the shifting demographics; this nation is moving toward becoming majority minority and having diverse views that represent a broader market should prove to be beneficial.

Why do you think diversity in media matters?

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© 2020 by Danielle Marshall

Louisville, KY