Civil Rights Groups Not Mollified by Apology

Aug 23, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin may have offered an apology, but it appears not to have helped. Some minority groups are still angry about his comments, which they said suggested cable company donations helped tailor the groups’ stance about whether consumers benefit from picking cable channels a la carte.
A day after Mr. Martin said the comments he made at an Aspen Institute forum earlier this month were misinterpreted, officials of civil rights groups conceded they get cable company money. However, they said the donations play a small part in their funding and accused Mr. Martin of being “insulting.”
“He served to smear a lot of civil rights organizations across the country,” said Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez, president of the Hispanic Federation. “He’s trying to marginalize our community. When he is someone as respected as the FCC chairman, he has to be careful.”
E. Faye Williams, national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, accused Mr. Martin of having “no record” in advancing the goal of diversity and accused him of “pandering to the religious wing of the far right” in pushing a la carte.
“His advisory committee [on diversity] has sat on the sidelines and has had only one meeting,” Ms. Williams said.
Ms. Lopez contended a la carte would severely affect minority channels by reducing the number “of black and brown faces” on cable.
“A la carte is not a good thing if we want to continue to grow and have more diverse programming on television and on cable,” she said. “We are opposing [a la carte] because we don’t see enough of this country represented on cable television. We’re working to have more people involved in the entertainment industry and have more programming that reflects and is culturally responsive to our communities. And when you do put in certain regulatory measures that will hurt the ability of programmers to get on, it may have unintended consequences or intended consequences.”
An FCC official noted its diversity committee, which has held one meeting, was re-established by Mr. Martin, who also has suggested the leasing of digital TV channels to minority broadcasters as one way to boost diversity.
(Editor: Horowitz)


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