The lack of women and minority representation in broadcast media has been an ongoing problem and now the Rev. Jesse Jackson aims to put an end to it.
Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH along with nearly two dozen other groups have called on the FCC to release data on how many women and minorities own broadcast outlets. But according to the FCC, such information is not easy to come by.
And urban politics and political expert Dr. Evelyn “Doc” Bethune (and granddaughter of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune) isn´t sure just how much of a difference Jackson´s latest campaign will make. “Operation Push can only do so much. Without the support of the people, they are crying out in the wilderness,” she notes. “Most of the leadership in our communities only come to the people when they are trying to move their own agendas forward. There is very little on going dialogue and few strategy sessions. Black people are at war in our own country but we don’t know it.”
The FCC started to collect the data in 2009, after many complaints, but the organization has yet to fully complete its study or release its findings, according to PUSH.
Bethune says, however, there are some strides PUSH and the organizations can make. “The how is simple. Organize and build war chests like those we need to do battle with. Whoever pays the bill has the control. It is very hard for our advocates to do battle with the ones who control their funding,” she notes. “We (Black people) must support groups like Operation Push, the NAACP, SCLC, etc. financially as well as with visibility. The FCC does not have a new focus. Their direction has always been to limit or eliminate African American access to OWNERSHIP, to radio and to television networks. That will only change substantively when we take it seriously and understand the necessity of controlling our own media outlets.”
The organizations joining PUSH are: the National Organization for Women, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Office of Communication, Inc. of the United Church of Christ, Media Access Project, and Free Press.
In response to the organizations, an unidentified FCC official said to the press that “this issue is a priority for the Commission and we are working hard to make the data available in a more easily accessible format…that the raw data is publicly available in the interim.”
The Data, says PUSH, will continue to show a major gap in minority and women ownership in broadcast media, and Bethune agrees. “White, male dominance has always been the nature of the FCC. Even in 2011, most networks and the FCC are whiter and more male dominated at the high end than ever before. Some might say it is Obama backlash. I say it is a continuation of the ‘good ole boy network,’” she says. “Media control in this country has never been accessible to minorities at the same level and white males,” she points out. “Even African Americans with money have found it difficult if not impossible to buy stations, networks and even airtime in major markets. When you control/own airspace, you have the opportunity to put your message out there without the buffer of talking heads…to control people and culture, control access to mass media.”