Posts Tagged ‘MMTC’

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

17 Points: The Radio Rescue Petition

July 21, 2009

17The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) has sent a list of seventeen proposals to the FCC intended to “provide lenders and investors with assurance that the federal government stands behind the survival and sustainability of this industry that is so vital to public service, public safety, minority entrepreneurship and democracy.” The MMTC Radio Rescue Petition for Rulemaking is primarily intended to help examine and rollback laws and standards, some in place since the ’30s, that are not only outdated but also create barriers to entry into the field by newcomers.

The Radio Business Report comments on the content of the  list:

The proposals include such things as eliminated outdated engineering rules, looking at TV Channels 5 and 6 for possible transition of the AM band, changing community of license contour rules, removing non-viable FM allotments, extending the time period for construction permits. Some of the ideas would particularly benefit minority, but many would simply reduce red tape and costs for all broadcasters.

Especially with things still up in the air as far as the issue of royalties is concerned, close scrutiny of out-of-date procedures is something that could go a long way towards easing the strain felt by broadcasters.

From illustrating the feasibility of a radio agreement with Cuba to the creation of a broadcast public engineer position to help small stations and non profits with routine engineering issues, there are a lot of interesting ideas contained in the document.  There is a PDF download of the original document in the right hand column of the RBR website here, under the heading attachments for your perusing pleasure.

I agree with the statement from the RBR that was appended to the bottom of the story:

“Bravo! These are some ideas worth exploring. Let’s hope the new FCC is ready to look at really dealing with the problems facing radio.”

Engineering and technology have advanced by leaps and bounds, especially in recent years. Anyone remember those 10-pound, first generation mobile phones? Unfortunately, the legal standards attached to the tech have not been able to keep pace in many cases. Let’s hope that this paves the way for some much needed change!

Photo courtesy of Moe / CC BY 2.0