The controversy over Don Imus’ racist remarks goes far beyond one bigoted commentator. But getting rid of Imus won’t fix the media problem.
Most of our TV and radio stations are owned by giant corporate conglomerates. They don’t represent the views of most Americans — and they make huge profits off the public airwaves.
What we need are more diverse, independent and local media owners. Yet right now less than 10% of TV and radio stations are owned by people of color or women.
But instead of addressing this national disgrace, the Federal Communications Commission is actually trying to let the largest companies buy up even more stations!
What Imus said is just the tip of the iceberg. Scores of other TV and radio hosts regularly make racist and sexist comments. The best way to stop this race to the bottom is to change who’s sitting at the top — and making the decisions about who’s behind the mic.
Today, according to one industry study, only 2.5% of radio stations have a person of color in the role of general manager, and only 4.4% have a racial or ethnic minority in the role of news director. The percentage of women in these jobs isn’t much higher. No wonder shock jocks like Imus have been able to keep their jobs for so long.
Now is our chance to make a change. In 2003, we stopped the FCC from allowing more media concentration, when more than 3 million people took action to stop Big Media.
This time, we must not only stop further consolidation — we must demand media ownership that reflects the diversity that makes our nation great.
P.S. For more on how minority owners have been shutout of the media system, read the Free Press study Out of the Picture:” www.stopbigmedia.com/=shutout