The Media Incubator is Back

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The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council co-founder David Honig called it big news when we spoke to him by phone Tuesday as the 8th annual MMTC Broadband and Social Justice Summit concluded. Honig said all three FCC Commissioners in attendance; Chairman Pai and Commissioner’s Clyburn and O’Rielly agreed to move forward on the Media Incubator, which through a special waiver, would give a broadcaster an opportunity in some markets to acquire one more radio station than the rules allow if the broadcaster makes it possible for a socially and economically disadvantaged business to get into broadcast ownership in the same or a larger market.

This proposal originated with the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters back in 1992 as part of FCC Chairman Sikes’ Minority Ownership Task Force. Despite its endorsement by all five commissioners in 1992, by a new set of five commissioners in 1995 and by the Diversity Committee in 2004, and despite the absence of any opposition to the proposal, the Commission has yet to act on the proposal. It has actually been pending before the Commission for fifteen years in five consecutive dockets.

Honig said he was pleasantly surprised to hear Commissioner Clyburn said, at the MMTC Summit that she is now open to the concept. “That means all three Commissioners now believe there should be a rule making as to how such a concept could be structured. It looks like in this one respect they are willing to explore new concepts. And this is one that’s been endorsed by all the civil rights organization and so it is significant.”

Back in 2007 Honig and the MMTC wrote a page proposal to the Commission. In that proposal Honig said the key to the effectiveness and integrity of an incubation program is that it would include concrete, definitive, and verifiable commitments of “sufficient magnitude and permanence” to justify a waiver.

Honig says the next step would be to frame issuance of an NPRM and have an individual broadcaster compile a proposal.

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