As a result of a pattern developing since the 1990s, Black ownership of full power television stations will drop to zero after a series of sales of the outlets due to consolidation and other factors. Although low-power TV stations still claim many people of color on the ownership side, media advocates mark the lack of Black-owned full-power stations as a blow to diversity.
Free Press, an organization that advocates on behalf of affordable Internet access and diversity in media, released a blog post of the sobering news last week. As noted by the group, the loss of full-power stations occur ed as a result of Congress and the Federal Communications Commission allowing consolidation of a sweeping sort in the broadcast industry.
From Free Press:
When Free Press released its first report on the state of TV ownership in 2006, we found that there were only 18 African American-owned and operated full-power commercial TV stations — representing just 1.3 percent of all such stations.
By December 2012, those 18 had shrunk to just five. And now they're all gone.”
Roberts Broadcasting, a black-owned media company, just announced a deal to sell its three remaining full-power TV stations to ION Media Networks for nearly $8 million.
Roberts Broadcasting, which owned stations in Indiana, Missouri and South Carolina, were the last holdouts of an era in which Black ownership of TV stations was considered an astounding but still frequent occurrence.
With mounting debt and a bankruptcy deal to settle with creditors, brothers Steve and Mike Roberts sold their company for $7.75 million to ION, which is based in Florida.
Free Press also remarked in its blog post that the FCC's unwillingness to stop the hemorrhage occurring in the broadcast industry poses a great threat to the low-power TV outlets owned by people of color. In fact, the FCC could auction off these low-power outlets to cellphone companies.
Photo: The Root