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WMC Calls on FCC to Address Underrepresentation of Women, People of Color Media Owners

June 26, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Women’s Media Center is calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide proactive solutions to remedy the dismal number of TV and radio stations owned by women and people of color.

“It’s time for the FCC to get serious about addressing this crisis – and there’s no better time than now,” said Julie Burton, President of the Women’s Media Center. “Women and people of color are underrepresented in all media, particularly as media owners. The media is one of the most powerful economic and cultural forces today. It shapes perceptions about who we are and what we can be.”

Burton’s comment comes as the FCC holds a hearing today as part of its review of media ownership rules. It is gathering data to understand how allowing further consolidation in media ownership would affect ownership opportunities for women and people of color.

Women represent more than half of the U.S. population, and people of color are set to become the majority. Yet, women own just 6 percent of TV stations and 6 percent of radio stations in the U.S. People of color own only 3 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

“Radio should be the most democratic of all media in this country. Its technology is the least expensive and most portable, from wind-up radios that need no electricity to drive-time listening and streaming on a computer. It's also multi-lingual and doesn’t require  literacy,” said Gloria Steinem, co-founder of the Women’s Media Center. “In fact, radio has become the least democratic thanks to the concentration of corporate ownership, advertiser demands, right wing personality-driven programming on news and talk shows, and even the amount of money and influence necessary to get a song on the play list. There’s nowhere to go but up. We need programmers who respect and share the experience, diversity, interests and locality of the people they are programming for.”

The Women’s Media Center earlier this year released the report “The Status of Women in the U.S. Media,” which shines a light on the status of women in the media and underscores the critical need to hold media accountable for an equal voice and equal representation.

“That women are acutely underrepresented in ownership is part of the larger crisis of representation and participation in the media overall,” said Carol Jenkins, who serves on the board member of the Women’s Media Center. “In the case of radio, it’s a pipeline issue: When (most) general managers and program directors are men, women simply don’t acquire the skills to run – and then own – radio stations.”

The Women's Media Center was founded in 2005 as a non-profit progressive women’s media organization by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem. It works to make women and girls visible and powerful in the media. It does this through media advocacy campaigns, media monitoring for sexism, creating original content, training women and girls to participate in media, and connecting women experts with the media. The Center has offices in Washington, D.C., and New York.

For more information, contact Cristal Williams Chancellor, Media Relations Manager, cristal@womensmediacenter.com or 202-587-1636.