Remarks of Commissioner McDowell
Remarks of Commissioner Robert M. McDowell
FCC Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age
December 6, 2011I am delighted that the Diversity Committee is finally meeting and I thank this incredibly
talented group for agreeing to participate. A special thanks to Henry Rivera for chairing the
committee yet again. I would also like to acknowledge Barbara Kreisman, who will serve as the
Designated Federal Officer for the Committee; Carolyn Fleming Williams and Nicole McGinnis,
who will also represent the Commission as Designated Deputy Federal Officers; and Tom Reed,
the Chief of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities. I am also pleased that we
are joined by the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Thank you for making the trip to be with us here
The last time the Diversity Committee met was December 2, 2010, more than a year ago.
The delay in announcing the members and convening the re-chartered Committee should not be
taken as an indication of this Committee’s relevance and worth. I cannot overemphasize the vital
importance of this Committee’s work to the Commission and the public. I hope that next year,
with your recommendations, the Commission will be able to promote policies that enhance the
ability of all Americans, particularly women and minorities, to participate in the communications
industry at all levels – as owners, managers, employees and in other roles.
In fact, the influence of this Committee extends well beyond this building. Not only do
the suggestions made by this group affect the rules adopted by the Commission, but your
recommendations have also prompted industry to take voluntary action. For instance, the
American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) has developed and circulated to its
members an advertising non-discrimination policy framework to end the practice of “no urban/no
Hispanic” dictates. Thanks in part to the hard work of this Committee, which led to the
Commission adopting the nondiscrimination rule for advertising sales contracts as part of the
2007 Diversity Order, the advertising industry – which we do not regulate – has also
implemented processes to eradicate this despicable practice.
Just this morning, I was informed by Sherman Kizart that many of the CEOs of largest
advertising agencies have signed pledges to implement the 4A’s non-discrimination policy.
These agencies control an estimated 7 out of every 10 dollars spent on advertising. This
achievement is highly significant and I would like to thank Sherman for his tireless efforts. He
has some additional ideas regarding the policy to end “no urban/no Hispanic” dictates and I hope
this Committee will strongly consider them.
As you may know, many of the other diversity provisions adopted in the 2007 Diversity
Order were struck down by the Third Circuit in the Prometheus II decision. The court’s decision
makes the work that you will undertake here especially significant and timely. I hope this
Committee will actively engage on the myriad of proposals to enhance media diversity that have
been considered in the past and that may be introduced in the future. All suggestions need to be
fully evaluated. We can use your help and expertise in determining which policies will be the
most effective and practicable.
Of course, any actions the Commission would take in this area must also be legally
sustainable and satisfy the rigorous demands of the Equal Protection Clause, as interpreted under
the Supreme Court’s Adarand line of cases. While I am at it, I would like to reiterate that the
diversity studies should be completed as soon as possible to assist us in supporting any new
regulations and determining the best approaches to increasing diversity.
I have had the pleasure of meeting with several members of the Committee over my years
at the Commission and I look forward to working with all of you all in the weeks and months to
come. I will close by simply reiterating my heartfelt gratitude for your service to this country.
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