With this report, Changes, Challenges, and Charting New Courses:
Minority Commercial Broadcast Ownership in the United States, the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) revisits the important
topic of minority ownership of broadcast facilities. The agency, through
its Minority Telecommunications Development Program (MTDP), has collected
data on minority ownership since 1990, and issued reports annually from
1990 through 1994 and from 1996 through 1998. In 1995, NTIA published a
report on the availability of capital for minorities trying to enter the
broadcasting business. This report provides an historical perspective on
minority ownership and an assessment of the impact that the recent trend
of broadcast industry consolidation has had on minority ownership.
Our Nation has had a long-standing commitment to minority participation
in the broadcast industry. Diverse voices contributing to public discourse
is a fundamental element of our democratic society. The wave of broadcast
mergers that swept through the industry following the passage of the Telecommunications
Act of 1996 as well as emerging technologies have highlighted the need
to examine the impact of business, legal, and technological changes on
Since 1990 when MTDP began collecting data on minority commercial broadcast
ownership in the United States, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic
Americans, and Native Americans have consistently been underrepresented
among the Nation's commercial broadcast owners. Ranging from a low of 2.7
percent in 1991 to a high of 3.8 percent in 2000, minorities' ownership
of commercial broadcast facilities has remained far below their estimated
29 percent representation in the U.S. population.
This year's report shows modest progress in some areas of minority commercial
broadcast ownership. It also reveals, however, the continuation of some
disturbing trends. The positive findings include:
Over the last two years, minorities as a whole have made some gains. In
2000, 187 minority broadcasters owned 449 full power commercial radio and
television stations, or 3.8 percent of the 11,865 such stations licensed
in the United States. These figures represent an increase of 0.9 percentage
points of the number reported in 1998. However, about half of this increase
was the result of an improved methodology to identify minority owners.
Minority owners have made some gains in the commercial radio industry,
and some previous owners have been newly identified. In 2000, 175 minority
broadcasters owned 426 stations, or about 4.0 percent of the Nation's 10,577
commercial AM and FM radio stations. This compares to their ownership of
305 radio stations in 1998, which represented 2.9 percent of that year's
industry total. Again, half of the increase came from newly identifying
already existing owners.
Findings causing continued concern include:
All minority groups have increased their radio ownership since 1998. In
terms of absolute growth, the number of Hispanic-American-owned stations
increased the most with the addition of 57 stations, followed by an increase
of 43 African-American-owned, 18 Asian American-owned, and three Native
American-owned. Excluding the effect of the improved search methodology,
however, the number of African American-owned stations increased by 15
percent, and Hispanic American owned stations 19 percent, Asian American-owned
stations by 300 percent, and Native American-owned by 25 percent. The large
increase in Asian American-owned stations was largely the result of purchases
by one large owner.
African-Americans' ownership of 211 radio stations in 2000 continues to
lead that of other minorities and represents almost half of all minority-owned
radio stations. Hispanic-Americans owned 187 stations or 44 percent of
all minority radio stations.
Minority owners' share of the commercial television market decreased in
2000. The 23 full power commercial television stations owned by minorities
in 2000 represented 1.9 percent of the country's 1,288 such licensed stations.
This is the lowest level since MTDP began issuing reports in 1990. That
year, minorities owned 29 full power television stations, compared to as
many as 38 during 1995 and 1996. Between 1998 and 2000, there was a loss
of five Hispanic-American and four African-American-owned stations., and
a new identification of two Asian American-owned stations, for a net loss
of seven stations.
While the broadcast industry's strong performance in recent years has benefitted
some minority owners and may help explain the increase in the number, consolidation
still threatens the survival of most minority owners, who as mostly single
station operators find it difficult to compete against large group owners.
At a time when single-station owners are struggling to remain competitive,
61 percent of minority owners operate stand-alone stations. In 2000, 131
or 31 percent of minority-owned stations were part of a duopoly (two or
more stations of the same type in the same market) compared to 36 percent
of non-minority competitors Seventeen minority-owned stations, or 4 percent,
participated in a local marketing agreement, while 8 percent of non-minority
competitors did so.
MTDP's efforts to compile data on minority ownership highlighted a critical
issue -- how to define "minority ownership." Indeed, there is no current
consensus on a definition. There are different definitions in past NTIA
reports, at the Federal Communications Commission, Small Business Administration,
and in legislation. Depending on which definition is used, well-known minority
broadcasters are or are not included. This report underscores the need
for certain issues such as equity ownership and control to be part of a
As reported in past years, minority owners continue to own more AM than
FM stations. In 2000, minorities owned 248 AM stations and 178 FM facilities.
Declining AM listenership over the past 15 years and the technical limitations
of these stations make them generally less profitable than FM stations.
In preparing this report, we solicited the perspective of minority owners
and have provided an overview of the continuing challenges that minority
owners confront as they attempt to acquire advertising, gain access to
capital, and improve employment opportunities for minorities. This report
discusses the reasons why many minority owners as well as others in the
industry support the reestablishment of a tax certificate program, and
NTIA urges further exploration of proposals to restore this program. The
report also highlights industry-led efforts to train minorities for careers
in broadcasting and to facilitate access to capital, which have provided
a positive contribution to advancing the goal of increasing broadcast diversity.
In part to address these challenges, broadcasters
are increasingly moving beyond traditional single station ownership and
embracing new management and ownership arrangements. In addition, many
broadcasters are adopting new technologies to redefine how they broadcast
their material. These efforts afford new opportunities for minority owners
and potential ways for us to ensure diversity of viewpoints over our Nation's