Kim Keenan, President and CEO of MMTC/Courtesy Photo
Kim Keenan, President and CEO of MMTC/Courtesy Photo

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, a Northwest, D.C.-based nonprofit, has sent a memorandum to the Trump Administration Telecom Transition Team recommending 12 imperative actions the White House, Congress, Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies should take to advance diverse media and telecom access, ownership, participation, and procurement in the media and telecom industries.

“Choose leaders that are representative in gender, race, and ethnic diversity and sensitive to the needs of all consumers,” MMTC officials told President-elect Donald Trump’s team in a news release this week.

MMTC seeks to preserve and expand minority ownership and equal employment opportunity in the mass media industry and to close the digital divide.

In addition to whatever plans Trump may have, MMTC President/CEO Kim Keenan said the new president should add “creating a measurable plan that expands FCC staff diversity in key positions such as bureau chiefs and establish a new position of chief diversity officer at the agency to ensure organizational accountability.”

MMTC has previously filed suit against the FCC over procurement.

“MMTC has reached out to the Trump administration’s Telecom Transition Team to offer solutions to America’s communications policy challenges,” Keenan said.

“We welcome the opportunity to open a dialogue and collaborate with this administration to cultivate diversity and access to our nation’s most influential industries,” she said.

Requests placed with Trump’s team for comment were not immediately answered.

The 12 imperatives included in the memorandum to Trump’s team are:

  1. Appoint and support FCC leadership that integrates diversity and inclusion into the regulatory rulemaking and public engagement processes.
  2. Preserve the FCC’s Lifeline program and improve it to enhance marketplace competition and increase the number of eligible program participants.
  3. Maintain free data programs that can preserve the affordability of mobile services, especially for economically vulnerable populations who are extremely sensitive to data costs.
  4. Provide for multilingual emergency information in all radio markets.
  5. Ban geographic redlining in broadband deployment to ensure ubiquitous access for all communities.
  6. Engage the multi-stakeholder process to enhance consumer privacy and counter applications redlining in the online marketplace.
  7. Work with State Public Utility Commissions and the FCC to ban predatory intrastate and interstate telephone rates charged to prisoners and their families.
  8. Engage the FCC and the Department of Labor to address employment discrimination in all communications industries and, especially, the dismal EEO record of the high-tech industry.
  9. Extend FCC equal procurement opportunity enforcement to all regulatory platforms and engage the General Accounting Office to ensure that federal agencies and departments consider diversity in procurement when choosing suppliers.
  10. Encourage the FCC to adopt an Overcoming Disadvantages Preference that would define eligible entities for competitive authorizations and thereby increase ownership diversity.
  11. Incentivize Secondary Market Transactions in commercial wireless spectrum by using tax incentives, auction bidding credits and other measures.
  12. Create a ‘Glide Path’ for the Short-Term Survival and Long-Term Humane Decommissioning of the AM Band in a Manner that Preserves Minority Ownership.

Acting on those imperatives is vital to addressing and remedying the dismally disproportionate levels of participation among diverse groups in the sixth largest industry in the nation, MMTC officials said.

On the consumer side, citing research from Pew Research, MMTC officials said that “home broadband adoption among African Americans decreased from 62 percent in 2013 to 54 percent in 2015, and among Hispanics decreased from 56 percent in 2013 to 50 percent in 2015.”

On the ownership side, FCC statistics point out that “minority ownership in the media, telecom and internet spaces has stalled at very low levels.”

Using the FCC statistics, officials said the Memorandum sheds light on the fact that “Hispanic or Latino ownership made up 2.9 percent of the number of full-power television stations in 2013 and African-American ownership made up 0.6 percent of these stations.”

These disparities must be remedied because “virtually all of the necessary elements of modern life must be performed online” and minority ownership is important because it determines the diversity of viewpoints, stories and issue analysis that is available to the American people,” MMTC said.

“MMTC has reached out to the Trump administration’s Telecom Transition Team to offer solutions to America’s communications policy challenges,” Keenan said.

“We welcome the opportunity to open a dialogue and collaborate with this administration to cultivate diversity and access to our nation’s most influential industries. It is vital that every community have both a voice and a hand in shaping and participating in the future of technology and innovation. This goal of digital opportunity must reach every American regardless of their status. Our collective future depends on it,” she said.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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