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July II, 2014

''J <.fl.rcc Mail Room

The Honorable Thomas E. Wheeler


Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20554


Black Television News Channel

Request for Temporary Waiver of Ban on Advertising for

Direct Broadcast Satellite Public Interest Set-Aside Channels

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

We are writing to urge the Commission to approve the above-referenced request filed by the Black

Television News Channel (BTNC). In its request, BTNC seeks a limited, three-year temporary

waiver of the Commission's rules, which ban noncommercial educational programmers carried on

Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) service systems from airing commercial advertisements. 1 We

believe the Commission should waive its rules in light of BTNC's l'roposed commitments; their

commitments will serve the public interest, convenience and necessity.

Drastic reductions in African American ownership of broadcasting stations and other media outlets

have led to a dilution of coverage on topics and figures that are relevant, and of importance to the

underserved African-American news market and communities. Instead of complementing the

continuing reliance that African Americans have on local and network television news as their

primary news and information sources, these troubling reductions in minority ownership

limit the

infusion of authentic African American perspectives and experiences into the development of news,

informational and educational programming.3 BTNC's thoughtfully-devised plan and enterprise can

help counteract the rapid disappearance and displacement of African American-owned commercial

broadcasters and cable networks. 4

1 ~

47 u.s.c. ยง 335(b).

2 BTNC' s launch on DBS systems and its commitments -

to which they are offering to be bound in the form of enforceable

conditions -

will provide African American communities with, among other things, a clearer voice; create rewarding jobs for a

diverse mix of employment candidates in the TV and cable news industries; and rebut negative imagery offered up by today's


media that all too often stereotypes African Americans.~ BTNC Comments at 24.

3 Almost three out of four Americans (71%) watch local teleVision news, at least once a month, with practically just as many

6So/o. who watch network television news. Nearly seven out of tO (690/o of) Aftican Americans said they watched television news

"yesterday" compared to .S6% of on-Hispanic whites, 43% of Hispanics, and 55% of Americans overall. Pew Research Center

2012 News Consumption Survey.

4 African American ownership of full-power, commercial television broadcasting stations has been effectively gutted. The

decline is striking; in 2006, African Americans owned 18 full-power, commercial TV stations, which at the time represented

around 1.3 percent of all such stations. Now, there are only four full-power stations owned by African Americans. ~A


Moment in the History of American Media Torres & Turner (Dec. 20, 2013)(citing to Free Press 2006 repon on broadcast

ownershipXAfrican American viewers watch more than 7 hours of television on average daily, which is more than any other

racial group, and they comprise II percent of the adult national television news market).



Letter to Chairman Wheeler

Black Television News Channel

July II, 2014

BTNC is an African American-owned, national media company whose central news organization

will be located in Tallahassee, Florida. As an African American-owned media voice, BTNC will be

uniquely able to render richer, more complex and authentic perspectives on African American values,

priorities, preferences and culture. Further, because of its mission, BTNC will be inclined to cover

and report on subjects and topics that African Americans deem to be important, yet are consistently

absent from or underreported on by mainstream media.

This new network will do much to inform and educate the public and to correct misperceptions and

distortions about African Americans. To execute its plan, its mission, and in constructing its

organization, BTNC states that it will collaborate closely with Florida A&M University's School of

Journalism & Graphic Communications (SJ&GC) -and potentially other historically Black colleges

and universities. As media and educational partners, BTNC can avail itself of SJ&GC's core

competencies and its experiences in training African American, university-level students and recent

graduates in a number of areas including broadcast journalism, visual communications, media sales

and public relations. In addition, BTNC has committed to produce and show 14 hours per day of

original news,

informational and educational programming focused on the African American

community and to create a minimum of 80 new jobs and 40 internship and mentorship programs

related to news and media.5

Promoting a diverse mix of news, educational, and public affairs programming is critically important

to the public and to our democracy, Ownership of news and educational media outlets by African

Americans and other minorities adds diverse perspectives, viewpoints and dimensions. As minority

media ownership is an effective influencer on the numbers of minorities employed in television and

news industry jobs, BTNC's launch on DBS systems and its entry into the multichannel video

programming distribution (MVPD) marketplace benefits not only the targeted African American

demographic- but our overall society on four very important levels- informationally, educationally,

technically and economically.

We urge the Commission to consider seriously BTNC's innovative proposal to increase minority

ownership in media and to grant its request. In its quest to produce intelligent programming that is

informative, educational, inspirational and empowering for its African American audience, BTNC

will create a television platform for African American newsmakers and BTNC viewers to learn and

understand more about the varied issues and topics that are of specific interest to our nation's 42

million African Americans. Thank you for your consideration.




Member of Congress

5 These 80 new job hires will serve as news anchors, journalists, writers, producers, production staff, engineers, broadcast sales

people, marketing executives, graphic designers, and virtual reality production specialists, among others. See BTNC Comments

at 6; BTNC Reply Comments at 3.


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