Connect with us

FCC

Former FCC Chairmen Hope for Rebirth of Tax Certificate That Bolstered Minority Voices on Broadcast

Recent conversations about revamping the program are inspired by the possibility of growth in diversity in broadcasting.

Published

on

Former FCC chairman Richard Wiley

July 21, 2021–Some former Federal Communications Commissioners are hoping the agency will bring back and work on a program that established and amplified minority voices on broadcast stations.

The minority tax certification, a program that emerged in 1978, was an initiative that searched to find the adequate representation of minority viewpoints in programming that served the needs and interests of the minority community.

The policy quintupled minority station ownership until 1995, when Congress terminated it. Recent conversations about revamping the program are inspired by the possibility of growth in diversity in broadcasting.

“I think it could be brought back with the appropriate safeguards…and I hope it is looked at because it gives people of all color of all backgrounds the opportunity to own broadcast stations and other communications property,” said former chairman Dick Wiley at a multicultural media, telecom and internet council symposium on Monday.

“The tax certificate was a very useful means to get capital to people. Obviously, it was abused and Congress ultimately abolished it, but I think it could be brought back with safeguards,” Wiley added.

“That’s another way to get the opportunity of people of all colors and backgrounds to own broadcast stations.”

Wiley was joined by five other former FCC commissioners, some of which spoke about the program.

Other former commissioners weigh in on diversity in media

Former Chairman Bill Kennard said he remembered the repealing of the program being “tragic because there was widespread support for it…and everyone loved the tax certificate [as] it benefitted everyone and created a lot of opportunity.”

However, Kennard explained the program would need to be adjusted with the dramatic change of technology moving toward the internet and streaming technologies. He said that the FCC must recognize the change and the barriers women and minorities have faced in order to succeed in media.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January that “strongly encouraged” independent agencies, like the FCC, to conduct an assessment on “potential barriers that underserved communities and individuals face in trying to access contracting opportunities.”

“Media control our narrative and control our consciousness,” said U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-NY, according to the Associated Press. “And if people of color aren’t owning those spaces and are strategically and just purposely excluded from those spaces, we have to do something about that.”

Former Chairman Ajit Pai reflected on his recent contributions to diversity within the telecommunications industry, including the Early Career Staffer Diversity Initiative. Pai said his one regret in office was not doing more.

An FCC spokesperson told the Associated Press that Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is “committed to ensuring that FCC policies are equitable, fair and transparent.” Starting with her expansion of the mission of the Communications Equity and Diversity Council is to “review more broadly critical diversity and equity issues across the tech sector.”

Reporter Sophie Draayer, a native Las Vegan, studied strategic communication and political science at the University of Utah. In her free time, she plays mahjong, learns new songs on the guitar, and binge-watches true-crime docuseries on Netflix.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

FCC

FCC Institutes ACP Transparency Data Collection

The FCC stated that it will lean on the newly mandated broadband nutrition labels.

Published

on

Photo of people working on computers, cropped, in 2011 by Victor Grigas

WASHINGTON, November 23, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission last week adopted an order that mandated annual reporting from all providers participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal initiative that subsidizes the internet-service and device costs of low-income Americans.

The FCC order establishing the ACP Transparency Data Collection, not released until Wednesday, requires ACP-affiliated providers to disclose prices, subscription rates, and other plan characteristics on yearly basis. The FCC stated that it will lean on the newly mandated broadband nutrition labels, which, it says, will ease regulatory burdens for providers.

The FCC created the Transparency Data Collection pursuant to the statutory requirements of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. The commission adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking in June.

Earlier this year, T-Mobile endorsed the nutrition-label method of collection. Industry associations including IMCOMPAS and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Associations warned the FCC against instituting excessive reporting burdens.

“To find out whether this program is working as Congress intended, we need to know who is participating, and how they are using the benefit,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.  “So we’re doing just that.  The data we collect will help us know where we are, and where we need to go. We’re also standardizing the way we collect data, and looking for other ways to paint a fuller picture of how many eligible households are participating in the ACP.  We want all eligible households to know about this important benefit for affordable internet service.”

Although the ACP is highly touted by the FCC, the White House, and industry experts, there is evidence the fund has been exploited by fraudsters, according to a watchdog. In September, the FCC Office of Inspector General issued a report that found the ACP handed out more than $1 million in improper benefits. In multiple instances, according to the OIG, the information of a qualifying individual was improperly used for hundreds of applications, achieving payouts of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last month, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., contacted 13 leading internet service providers, requesting details on alleged fishy business practices connected to the ACP and its predecessor, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.

Continue Reading

Broadband's Impact

Federal Communications Commission Mandates Broadband ‘Nutrition’ Labels

The FCC also mandated that internet service provider labels be machine-readable.

Published

on

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday afternoon ordered internet providers to display broadband “nutrition” labels at points of sale that include internet plans’ performance metrics, monthly rates, and other information that may inform consumers’ purchasing decisions.

The agency released the requirement less than 24 hours before it released the first draft of its updated broadband map.

The FCC mandated that labels be machine-readable, which is designed to facilitate third-party data-gathering and analysis. The commission also requires that the labels to be made available in customers’ online portals with the provide the and “accessible” to non-English speakers.

In addition to the broadband speeds promised by the providers, the new labels must also display typical latency, time-of-purchase fees, discount information, data limits, and provider-contact information.

“Broadband is an essential service, for everyone, everywhere. Because of this, consumers need to know what they are paying for, and how it compares with other service offerings,”  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. 

“For over 25 years, consumers have enjoyed the convenience of nutrition labels on food products.  We’re now requiring internet service providers to display broadband labels for both wireless and wired services.  Consumers deserve to get accurate information about price, speed, data allowances, and other terms of service up front.”

Industry players robustly debated the proper parameters for broadband labels in a flurry of filings with the FCC. Free Press, an advocacy group, argued for machine-readable labels and accommodations for non-English speakers, measures which were largely opposed by trade groups. Free Press also advocated a requirement that labels to be included on monthly internet bills, without which the FCC “risks merely replicating the status quo wherein consumers must navigate fine print, poorly designed websites, and byzantine hyperlinks,” group wrote.

“The failure to require the label’s display on a customer’s monthly bill is a disappointing concession to monopolist ISPs like AT&T and Comcast and a big loss for consumers,” Joshua Stager, policy director of Free Press, said Friday.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association clashed with Free Press in its FCC filing and supported the point-of-sale requirement.

“WISPA welcomes today’s release of the FCC’s new broadband label,” said Vice President of Policy Louis Peraertz. “It will help consumers better understand their internet access purchases, enabling them to quickly see ‘under the hood,’ and allow for an effective apples-to-apples comparison tool when shopping for services in the marketplace.”

Image of the FCC’s sample broadband nutrition label

Continue Reading

FCC

FCC to Establish New Space Bureau, Chairwoman Says

‘The new space age has turned everything we know about how to deliver critical space-based services on its head.’

Published

on

Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, via fcc.gov

WASHINGTON, November 3, 2022 — The Federal Communications Commission will add a new space bureau that will modernize regulations and facilitate innovation, Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced Thursday.

The new bureau is intended to facilitate American leadership in the space economy, boost the Commission’s technical capacity, and foster interagency cooperation, Rosenworcel said, speaking at the National Press Club.

“The new space age has turned everything we know about how to deliver critical space-based services on its head,” Rosenworcel said. “But the organizational structures of the [FCC] have not kept pace,” she added.

The space economy is “on a monumental run” of growth and innovation, the chairwoman argued, and the FCC must remodel itself to facilitate continued growth. Rosenworcel said the commission is currently reviewing 64,000 new satellite applications, and she further noted that 98 percent of all satellites launched in 2021 provided internet connectivity. By the end off 2022, operators will set a new record for satellites launched into orbit, she said.

The FCC will not take on new responsibilities, Rosenworcel said, but the announced restructuring will help the agency “perform[] existing statutory responsibilities better.” In September, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R–Wash., warned the FCC against overreaching its statutory mandate and voiced support for robust congressional oversight – a position reiterated by House staffers Wednesday.

“The formation of a dedicated space bureau within the FCC is a positive step for satellite operators and customers across the United States,” said Julie Zoller, head of global regulatory affairs at Amazon’s satellite broadband Project Kuiper, on a panel following Rosenworcel’s announcement.

“An important part of [Rosenworcel’s] space agenda is ensuring that there is a competitive environment in all aspects of that space,” said Umair Javed, the chairwoman’s chief counsel, during the panel. “So we’ve taken action to update our rules on spectrum sharing to make sure that there are opportunities for multiple systems to be successful in low Earth orbit.

“We’ve granted a number of experimental authorizations to companies that are doing really new…things,” Umair continued.

The FCC in September required that low–Earth orbit satellite debris be removed within five years of mission completion, a move Rosenworcel said would clear the way for new innovation.

In August, the FCC revoked an $885 million grant to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite-broadband service. FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington criticized the reversal, and Starlink has since appealed it.

Continue Reading

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Broadband Breakfast Research Partner

Trending