No Black-Owned TV Stations In America Anymore In 2013

“No Black-Owned TV Stations In America Anymore In 2013.”

That title is true, and comes from the work called “A Sorry Moment in the History of American Media.” It goes like this:

There are now zero black-owned and operated full-power TV stations in our country…This sorry state of affairs is the culmination of a trend that started in the late 1990s when Congress and the Federal Communications Commission allowed massive consolidation in the broadcasting industry. This policy shift crowded out existing owners of color and ensured that it would be nearly impossible for new owners to access the public airwaves. Recent FCC actions (and in some cases, inaction) have only hastened this decline in opportunities for diverse broadcasters.

Joseph Torres and S. Derek Turner reports that in 2006 there were 18 such TV stations, but with media consolidation the number of dropped to the last three this year, 2013, and they were owned by the black-owned Roberts Broadcasting. The brothers Michael and Steve Roberts racked up something like $3 million is license fee debt, and had to file for bankruptcy protection. Roberts Broadcasting was also hit by the closure of the UPN Network, which had black programming, for the CW – it sold its holding for $8 million to the ION Network.

The problem is the consolidation of stations caused by the high-and-increasing retransmission fees charged by Cable-TV providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as well as the erosion of viewers due to the growth of YouTube and Netflix. Thus, even large companies like Disney are selling some of their TV stations.

But it’s not as if the TV stations aren’t affordable. I went to a website that lists TV stations for sale and found one in Charlotte, North Carolina that was available for $1 million.

Overall, the market for TV stations is hot due to what The Hollywood Reporter says is “a recovering economy, an improved ad market (especially political ads that often go to local stations) and an influx of cash from retransmission consent.” Larger companies like Tribune and Gannett are buying up TV stations at a fast pace.

Given that, I’d have to believe the reason why there aren’t any more black-owned TV stations is as much a lack of focus as anything else – the formation of a clearing house for small valuation TV companies for women and minority investors. The FCC could step in and help in this area, but I understand at least one of its chairpersons is not sympathetic to the issue. I’m pretty sure President Obama would not appreciate that person’s position.

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