Derek Turner of the media reform group Free Press has just released a study that shows that the television industry is still largely dominated by white men, even as other industries in the country diversify their ownership demographics. Entitled "Out of the Picture," the report cites a number alarming statistics on television station ownership:
- Women owned 28 percent of all non-farm businesses in 2002, but currently own less than 5 percent of commercial broadcast television stations.
- Minorities owned 18 percent of all non-farm businesses in 2002, but currently approximately 3 percent of commercial broadcast television stations.
- In sectors such as transportation and health care, all minority groups own businesses at or near their proportion of the general population. But in the TV broadcast sector, the two largest groups — African-Americans and Latinos — barely own 1 percent of stations.
It’s a very interesting study, particularly how it connects the decline in minority and women’s ownership of TV stations with the efforts of the FCC to relax restrictions on TV ownership rules. This has in turn allowed large conglomerates to sweep up entire markets worth of channels, making it harder for potential TV station owners to enter the market. Certainly, with the rapid increase in the numbers of stations available on cable and broadcast TV we can design a system that encourages more than token numbers of BET, Univision and Oxygen channels.