FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 16, 1997
CONTACT: Paige Darden
(202) 482-7002



Irving Tells Minority Broadcasters "It Is Time For Renewed Debate About The

Effects of Media Concentration in this Country"

WASHINGTON, DC -- Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Irving told the annual meeting of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) today that his agency's annual survey of minority media ownership revealed that the number of radio and television stations owned by minorities is dismally low, remaining at approximately 3% for the sixth year in a row.

The survey, which was released today, found that minorities now own 322 of 11,475 commercial broadcast stations, representing 2.8 percent of total commercial ownership (down from 3.1% in 1996). Of this total, Black ownership represents 1.7%, Hispanic ownership represents 1.05%, Asian ownership represents

.03%, and Native American ownership represents .04%. The only increase from last year was the total number of Hispanic-owned stations, which went up from 115 to 120, due to an increase in the number of AM radio stations owned by Hispanics. The annual survey has been prepared by the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration since 1991.

The report further revealed that last year Black ownership totals decreased by 30 stations. The decline in Black ownership can be ascribed, in part, to the sale of US Radio, the largest Black-owned broadcast company in the U.S. to Clear Channel Communications. In his speech, Irving expressed particular concern that minorities are losing stations in the top 50 Arbitron ranked markets.

NTIA also believes that the underrepresentation of minority owners bears a direct relationship to a lack of access to investment capital, and the lack of legislation and policy initiatives that promote minority ownership.

"It is time to have a renewed examination and public debate about the affects of media concentration, and the importance of minority ownership. Policymakers, legislators, and industry professionals in both the public and private sectors need to think anew about which tools and methods effectively will increase minority participation in the broadcast and telecommunications industries," said Irving.

Stressing the need to work more closely together, Irving told the audience that current owners and executives need to do more to develop proteges. "There is always going to be churn in the market, but we all have an interest in preserving a diversity of voices."

On a more positive note, Irving told the audience that technological advancements are increasing the ways people get news and information, which also results in a growing number of choices for advertisers. Irving encouraged the audience to explore opportunities presented by new technologies. Irving, who is an avid user of the audio and video capabilities of the Internet, told the audience that the Internet is changing the industry. Irving referred to recent Wired magazine article that said the hip-hop generation increasingly is becoming the 'chip-hop' generation. "Hip-hop and urban contemporary music and video are on the Net. Most minority owned stations are not. You have the power to change that," said Irving.

Irving concluded his remarks by extending an invitation to the audience to share any thoughts they have about ways to promote minority ownership. "This Administration recognizes the importance of minority broadcast ownership -- President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and Secretary of Commerce William Daley all share the view that preserving a diversity of viewpoints on our nation's airwaves is fundamental to the success of our democracy," said Irving.

The report discusses two programs that can be of assistance to minority broadcast businesses. The first, ComTrain, is a management training program for minority broadcast owners, that is administered by NTIA's Minority Telecommunications Development Program (MTDP). The broadcasters that participated in this year's minority ownership survey reported that ComTrain is the most useful government program designed to assist minority broadcast owners. The second, the Telecommunications Development Fund (TDF), was authorized by the 1996 Telecommunications Act to provide a source of loans and investment capital to small communications businesses. Those funds are in the process of being made available.

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration serves as the principal adviser to the President, Vice President and Secretary of Commerce on domestic and international communications and information issues.

For a copy of the 1997 NTIA Minority Commercial Ownership Report and today's speech, please call Mary Wallach, NTIA Public Affairs, at 202-482-3999 or download it from NTIA's webpage at For more information about ComTrain, please call Tatia Williams, Acting Director of MDTP, at 202-482-0516 and for more information about the TDF, call the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Office of Business Opportunities, at 202-418-0990.