The Number Of Black Owned Full Power TV Stations Dropped To Zero In 2013
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Television

The Number Of Black Owned Full Power TV Stations Dropped To Zero In 2013

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Among

everything that happened last year, there was one major newsworthy item that was completely overlooked by the media: the sad statistic that there are no longer any black-owned, full power TV station in the United

States.

According to

the New Pittsburgh Courier, which reported the story earlier this week, there

were some 18 black-owned stations in

2006, which represented 1.3% of all TV stations. That number

dropped down to just five last year.

And in 2013, those five no longer existed, all being bought up by larger media

companies.

The reason

for this sorry situation started back during the late 1990s, when “Congress

and the Federal Communications Commission allowed massive consolidation in the

broadcasting industry. This policy shift crowded out existing owners of color

and ensured that it would be nearly impossible for new owners to access the

public airwaves…

One of the

last few remaining black-owned full power stations, Roberts Broadcasting – founded by the siblings Michael and Steve Roberts – recently announced a deal to sell its

three remaining full power TV stations to ION

Media Networks for nearly $8

million.

The reason

for the sale was due to the broadcasting company declaring bankruptcy in 2011, which stemmed primarily from Viacom’s

decision to shut down the UPN network,

which Roberts was affiliated with, due to UPN’s focus on black programming.

In late

October, the Sinclair Broadcast Group

bought up a Fox affiliate in Portland,

Maine, from a company headed by Charles

Glover, a former musician turned

broadcaster. And that same month, the black owned Access.1 Communications sold off its Atlantic

City NBC station to Locus Point

Networks.

And as the

article points out, it’s ironic that this dismal state of black-owned broadcast

ownership should occur during the administration of the country’s first black

president, who even once pledged to encourage diversity in the ownership of

broadcast media.

As the

article states: Media consolidation has made it harder for people of color to own

broadcast stations because it raises entry barriers for small owners.

Concentration makes it harder for any small owner to compete, and the few

non-white broadcast licensees we have are far more likely to be small owners

who control just a handful of stations or a single broadcast outlet.

However, there

is one small ray of hope; and that’s regarding cheaper to buy and own low power

TV stations, which serve smaller areas than more expensive full power TV

stations.

Though they

lack guaranteed carriage by cable and satellite providers, currently some 15% of those low power stations are owned by people of power, and they do provide an opportunity for black

owners to get a foothold in an industry that has systematically cut them off.

However, once again, this small ray of hope might dim with the prospect of the auction of cellphone

companies, which could drive out the owners of these low-power TV stations as well.

The FCC is

preparing to conduct that incentive auction in the next year or two, and buyers

have been buying up both low and full power TV stations in an effort to cash in

on the potential auction of those companies.

As a result,

station owners are being forced to sell, since their creditors are more interested in pocketing a potential huge

financial windfall, than serving the community and already low power TV station

owners, and getting out of the business

A very sad state

of affairs indeed .

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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