Rediscovering And Defending Black Media

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Currently in the face of a right wing media bias most Black media is restricted to race neutral and irrelevant content, being told that is the only thing White advertisers will tolerate.


[The MEDIA]

 
In
view of the fact that Black-owned media is being squeezed out of
business by the mega broadcast corporations whose advantages in the
media industry may well be in violation of the Sherman Anti Trust act, a
public hearing on the status of Black radio in New York was convened in
at the State Office Building, in Harlem New York.   
    
The
hearing, the first of its kind in the nation, attracted people from
throughout New York’s tri-state area including Pennsylvania. The
hearing, which was convened by broadcaster and community activist Bob
Law heard three hours of sworn testimony from small business owners,
directors of cultural institutions, educators, political activist and
everyday listeners. 
    
The hearing was to allow the African
American community to express their support for Black- owned media and
Black-owned radio in particular, since radio represents the most
significant inroads achieved by Blacks in the electronic media to date,
and it is Black owned radio that is being marginalized. 
    
More
than 100 people came to give sworn testimony that is being forwarded to
the Federal Communications Commission, as the commission considers
license transfers throughout the nation that, unless carefully
monitored, may have a devastating effect on Black Americans.  
    
There
was expert testimony from Dr. Elisa English P.hD MSW who pointed out
that a cultural, ethnic and race-based perspective is critical to the
psychological, emotional, financial and social development and
prosperity of any minority group. She further stated that in addition
media reports influence the formation of stereotypes and in turn
stereotypes can influence behavior, social cohesion and civic life.   
    
The
testimony by Dr. English reinforced the 1997 study done by the Dubois
Bunche Center for Public Policy, that underscored the need for people of
African descent to be able to exercise control over the editorial
content of news and information coming into their community. 
    
Renown
Producer and Director Woodie King Jr. said that as Chairman of the
Coalition of Theaters of Color, he was greatly concerned that the means
to reach the communities of color through Black radio is being cut off.
King said that Black radio dispatched messages to our community in ways
traditional White media ignored. 
    
Betty Dopson, co founder of
the Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People said: “For
New York City, the leading metropolitan city to now have no Black talk
radio station is an indication of corporate Americas efforts to silence
the voices of a people while increasing the number of talk shows up and
down the dial that are hosted primarily by white men.” 
    
Dopson
has joined with Bob Law, Michael North, and New York  Councilman
Charles Baron (D-Bklyn) in filing a petition with the FCC asking for a
delay in approving the transfer of the broadcast license of InnerCity
Broadcasting which is Black-owned to a Los Angeles based holding
company, YMF partners. InnerCity was reportedly forced into bankruptcy
in 2011.  
 
The petition charges the FCC to nonetheless protect the interest of New York’s more than 2 million Black New Yorkers.   
 
Some
of the speakers spoke of the danger the loss of Black ownership would
have in terms of the diversity of ideas, pointing out that as early as
1945 the Supreme Court declared that the widest possible dissemination
of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the
welfare of the public, and that a free press is a condition of a free
society.  
    
It was also pointed out that in July of 2011 the
US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit threw out a 2007 FCC rule
change that would that would have removed all meaningful media ownership
limits. It was a rule that would have opened the door for more mega
media consolidation, giving the media giants more dominance in the
market place by allowing them to restrict and control the flow of
information and analysis. 
    
The court also blasted the FCC for
repeated failures to consider the impact of media consolidation on
broadcast ownership by people of color. Since the Supreme Court has
directed the FCC to make sure the public is not ignored, this public
hearing is to give Black New Yorkers a vehicle to take their concerns
directly to the Federal Communications Commission, said Bob Law 
    
Currently
in the face of a right wing media bias most Black media is restricted
to race neutral and irrelevant content, being told that is the only
thing White advertisers will tolerate. It was the sentiment of the
community that Black-owned media is also the victim of an advertising
industry basis that denies Black radio ad revenue it deserves based on
how well Black radio actually performs.  
    
That concern is
supported by successful law suits recently filed against ARBITRON, the
radio ratings company, by the attorney generals office of the states of
New York and California both charging ARBITRON with using a ratings
scheme that dramatically undercounts Black audiences, causing sharp
declines in advertising revenue and forcing many Black broadcasters out
of business. 
    
The elected officials who heard the testimonies
were congressman Ed Towns, City Councilman Barron, State Senator Bill
Perkins and State Assembly woman Inez Barron; they pledged to deliver
the statements as well as the sentiments of their constituents directly
to the FCC. 
 
Ironically, as the Black community gathered to show
it’s unwavering support for Black owned media and Black owned radio in
particular, the city’s only remaining Black-owned radio station WWRL AM,
chose not to stand with its community as Black New Yorkers begin to
come forward on behalf of Black radio.  
 
Strange indeed.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."


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