Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Women, minorities shut out of radio ownership

Women and minorities have largely been shut out of radio ownership in this country, in part, because of media consolidation, a new study by media reformers Free Press has found. The study concluded women and minorities own 6 and 7.7 percent respectively of the nation's full power radio stations.

The study is the first ever complete ownership assessment of the nation's airwaves. Significantly, the study found stations owned by women and minorities tended to feature more local and diverse programming than those stations owned by white men.

The study found equally dismal representation of women and minorities at the top levels of radio station management, and that minority ownership levels are low even in areas where there are high concentrations of minorities.

Of course, media consolidation has not only affected women and minority ownership. The study makes a great companion piece to a study put out by the Future of Music Coalition last year that found radio listener's options have decreased as the market became more consolidated. The study found just 15 formats make up 3/4 of commercial radio formats. Niche formats like jazz and bluegrass are almost entirely absent from commercial radio.

Both studies are cautionary tales on media consolidation. Hopefully, the FCC does a little reading as it once again discusses whether to eliminate limits on media ownership.

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