For immediate Release
June 28, 2000
Contact: Ranjit de Silva (202)482-7002
Art Brodsky (202)482-0019


WASHINGTON-Gregory L. Rohde, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, will host a roundtable discussion July 18 on minority media ownership and how to preserve diversity in the changing broadcast industry.

"The convergence of traditional broadcasting and new telecommunications technologies may present new opportunities for media ownership," said Rohde, who is also head of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). "The roundtable discussion will explore ways to promote diversity, including improving the prospects for minorities to acquire media properties and to compete effectively," Rohde added.

The discussion will examine whether negative trends described in a 1998 NTIA report on minority media ownership are continuing to adversely affect minority media ownership. Since that report, "Minority Commercial Broadcast Ownership in the United States," multibillion dollar mergers of large radio station groups and unions between cable companies, multimedia conglomerates and telecommunications companies have been announced or consummated, Rohde said. The roundtable will also discuss the impact the 1996 Telecommunications Act has had on minority ownership. Specifically, it will discuss whether there continues to be a need for policies that benefit diverse ownership and what, if any, policies exist to facilitate minority ownership.

The 1998 report found that financial barriers, increased competition and high station prices are likely to be significant obstacles to new minority entrants to the broadcasting marketplace. It also found that media concentration was a likely factor to cause small broadcast station owners with less capital to leave the industry because they could not compete against group owners.

Roundtable participants will include broadcast media owners, financiers, policymakers, and members of the academic community who will provide information that can assist NTIA as it prepares a new report on minority media ownership scheduled to be released this fall. "The purpose of this roundtable is to gather information as NTIA updates the minority ownership report," Rohde said.

"Traditional distinctions between the broadcast, cable and telecommunications industries appear to be disappearing as new technologies emerge," Rohde said. "The viability of new technologies to enhance incumbent media owners and attract new ones and the impact of media concentration and access to capital are issues we will explore at the roundtable," he said.