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STATEMENT BY FCC COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J COPPS ON THE PASSING OF PERCY E SUTTON

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Released: December 29, 2009

NEWS

News media Information 202 / 418-0500

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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D. C. 20554
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order
constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:

December 29, 2009

Jamila Bess Johnson at (202) 418-2000

STATEMENT BY FCC COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. COPPS

ON THE PASSING OF PERCY E. SUTTON

With the passing of Percy E. Sutton, New York City has lost a preeminent leader. Mr.
Sutton was known to New Yorkers, and particularly those in his beloved Harlem, as a lawyer,
civil rights leader and the long-serving Manhattan Borough President. Yet it is his role as a
broadcaster and media entrepreneur that represents a larger, and perhaps, more lasting legacy for
the nation at large. When Sutton and others purchased radio station WLIB in 1971 it became the
first Black-owned radio station in the New York City metropolitan market. Under his leadership,
WLIB aired news, information and cultural programming of interest to the Black community in
the number one media market in the country. At long last, local communities of color began to
find broadcast programming that reflected their unique needs and interests. Sutton went on to
purchase WBLS in New York, and several other radio stations in various markets to form his
media company, Inner City Broadcasting. His stations gave voice to African American concerns
in numerous local communities, and provided opportunities for minorities seeking employment
in the broadcast industry. Sutton's pioneering Inner City Broadcasting became the model upon
which others have worked to build successful broadcast enterprises.
Although Percy Sutton's life should be celebrated for all his many and diverse
accomplishments – Tuskegee Airman, political leader, and one-time owner of the famed Apollo
Theatre – it is his legacy as a local broadcaster that I will always cherish. At a time when
minority ownership of broadcast stations has reached woeful single digits, I trust we will
remember the legacy of Percy Sutton and the importance of diversity in media ownership. I
hope also that we will re-dedicate our efforts to improving ownership diversity of media outlets
so that they will truly reflect the rich cultural diversity of all our nation's citizens.
- FCC -

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