Minority Broadcasters Seek Federal Aid

Fawn Johnson, Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2009

A group of minority broadcasters asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Monday for financial assistance akin to the aid that has been extended to the financial and auto industries.

“Minority-owned broadcasters are close to becoming an extinct species,” the letter said. “Even in better economic times, minority broadcasters have historically had difficulties accessing the capital markets.”

The broadcasters told Mr. Geithner they can bounce back if they are given some temporary assistance while the credit markets are slow. “Unlike the auto business, broadcasting has been healthy for many years,” their letter said.

The broadcasters appeal follows a proposal sent in May to Mr. Geithner by a group of influential House members asking for a minority broadcaster support program, bridge funding, or government-backed loans.

The House letter was signed by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.) and a group of key committee chairmen, including Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D., Mass.) Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) and Oversight Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns, (D., N.Y.).

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Research from the Internet advocacy group Free Press says minorities own just 7.7% of full power commercial radio stations and 3.2% of full power commercial TV stations.

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Companies and groups that signed on to the Geithner letter included the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the Inner City Broadcasting Coalition, the Spanish Broadcasting System, Taxi Productions Inc., and Carter Broadcast Group, Inc.

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