Posts Tagged ‘Minority Media and Telecommunications Council’

Performance Rights Act: Civil Rights Leaders Weigh In

May 19, 2010

When people think of civil rights issues, they tend to think of the obvious things: racial profiling, job discrimination, etc. In real life, things are rarely quite so neat. This is a truth that civil rights proponents are well aware of. Lately, many of the higher profile names in this arena have begun to cast their eyes upon the Performance Rights Act (PRA). Politic365 recently did a special report about this, leading off with this quote:

[…] as Rev. Al Sharpton told Politic365, “often it is the quiet bills, the obscure bills, the so-called “specialized” bills, the bills no one seems to know much about, that can hurt Black folks the most if we’re not paying attention.”  A textbook example, according to Rev. Sharpton and other civil rights advocates interviewed byPolitic365, is the “Performance Royalty” legislation that many advocates believe would throw Black radio into a deep tailspin.

Anyone familiar with the ways of Washington is aware of the way that bills are often attached to higher priority legislation in order to pass. It is a daily occurrence on Capitol Hill. In addition, the impact of this legislation on minority-owned radio has long been a bone of contention, inspiring truly bipartisan efforts on both sides of the issue.

But now the heavy hitters from the civil rights scene are weighing in on the legislation and their thoughts on the PRA are not exactly complimentary. Here is another example drawn from the same report:

MMTC [Minority Media and Telecommunications Council] warns that “misinformation is circulating in the civil rights community suggesting that the legislation will not harm minority radio.  In fact, black and Spanish radio would be hit the hardest by this legislation because these stations face the greatest challenges” – including weaker signals, advertising discrimination, and the FCC’s failure to enforce its equal employment opportunity rules.  MMTC reports that it has conservatively estimated that the legislation would throw at least a third of minority owned stations over the cliff into bankruptcy.  The National Association of Media Brokers (NAMB) agrees, adding that “the imposition of a performance royalty on free, over-the-air broadcast stations will be crippling to the broadcast industry in general, and be particularly devastating to minority broadcasters and their audiences, as well as to other new entrants to the industry.”

This is particularly distressing if you take into account the research findings referenced in the Politics365 special report. According to that report, the value of  radio airplay directly translates to approximately $2 billion in annual music sales, and that number excludes radio’s promotional impact on concert and merchandise based income.

Opponents of the Performance Rights Act include civil rights luminaries such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, Dick Gregory, and Tom Joyner. In addition, fifteen members of the Congressional Black Caucus have also expressed their concerns, including Elijah Cummings, Danny Davis, Al Green, John Lewis, Charlie Rangel, and Bobby Rush. That is one impressive roll call if you ask me.

In the end, though, it was Rev. Sharpton who posed the vital question of the day:

“Why in the world would the Democrats at the Commerce Department do this to Black radio – and to radio period?  It doesn’t make sense from a political, social or economic perspective.  If it passes, this bill would have a devastating effect on Black communities.”

What do you think?

Image: marriageequalityCC BY 2.0


Clear Channel Donates Radio Stations to Minority Media and Telecommunications Council

July 23, 2009

micWhat do AM radio stations KYHN in Fort Smith, AR; WTFX in Winchester, VA; KMFX in Rochester, MN; and WHJA in Laurel, MS, all have in common?

The fact they they are preparing to change ownership, that’s what.

Clear Channel Communications, in a move designed to increase diversity in media ownership, is donating these stations and additional equipment to the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC). Geared towards not only increasing minority ownership but also towards training the next generation of minority and female broadcast owners.

Daivid Honig, president and executive director of the MMTC is quoted in the San Antonio Business Journal speaking about the program:

“Clear Channel Radio’s generosity and support creates an enormous opportunity not only for our own training programs, but for minority and women broadcasters who would not otherwise have the means to operate their own stations,” Honig says. “We look forward to working with Clear Channel through this ongoing program to promote diversity in radio broadcasting.”

Honig must be pretty happy right now, he and the MMTC have spent several years applying pressure to the FCC, trying to get them to award more licenses to minorities and women. Hardly surprising, since the group’s mandate is to promote civil rights and equality in the broadcast space, nice to see them tally up this success.

This move by Clear Channel comes at a tumultuous time for minority radio. As Congress wrangles with the troublesome topic of radio royalties, minority owned stations are experiencing fear that they may not be able to afford to continue operating.  Just Google the phrase “Save Black Radio” for a plethora of examples.

I applaud Clear Channel for taking this step towards preserving the diversity of voices that radio presents to the listening public!

Photo: hiddedevries/ / CC BY 2.0