Washington, DC (March 21, 2016): Today, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calling for the elimination of the FCC’s Main Studio Rule because it operates as a market entry barrier inhibiting minority ownership.

MMTC holds that the Main Studio Rule – that all full-power broadcasters must maintain a studio either within its city of license, or at another site either within 25 miles of its city of license or within the city-grade contour of any station licensed to the same city of license as the station – is a 20th century holdover that should be abolished or modified to recognize 21st century technologies.

“It is time to amend the Main Studio Rule to reflect the times,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan.  “Reconciling the rules with the state of technology is within the public interest.”  [click to continue…]

FCC Spectrum Auction BidNext week, the Federal Communications Commission is holding its DTV incentive auction repurpose the nation’s spectrum. While most broadcasters are likely aware of this, few may realize that, whether large or small, they can benefit from auction-related tax savings.  MMTC Media and Telecom Brokers can help design tax strategies that can include opportunities for broadcasters – large and small – to do business with new entrants, particularly minority and women entrepreneurs.

Broadcast industry observers have noted that the adding machines in the tax and legal departments of major broadcasters are busily crunching numbers in anticipation of the tax gains that can be made as a result of the reverse auction.  The same tax benefits these major companies are considering are also available to small and mid-sized broadcasters.  MMTC Media and Telecom Brokers has a history of facilitating tax-deferred exchanges as part of its portfolio of nearly $2 billion in deals since 1997.

Prior to the January auction filing deadline, many broadcasters worked feverishly toward acquiring spectrum that it could sell back to the Commission in the auction.  As part of those acquisitions, some acquiring companies availed themselves of the IRS like-kind exchange rules to defer tax on the transactions.  For example, Spanish Broadcasting System exchanged three radio stations, plus $1.9 million, in Puerto Rico in exchange for three television stations that it intends to include in the auction for a profit.  By structuring similar acquisitions under IRS like-kind rules, many broadcasters have been able to defer tax on any gains from the sale of their existing stations. [click to continue…]

The following article originally appeared in Radio World.

Edward Distell, Darnell Washington, and Kongsue Xiong

Over the course of several decades, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council’s transactional arm, MMTC Media & Telecom Brokers, has worked to ensure that diverse voices and entrepreneurs are included in the nation’s rapidly evolving and intensely influential communications industries.

MMTC, founded in 1986, and its brokerage, founded in 1997, have negotiated dozens of media and telecom deals totaling approximately $2 billion in asset value. The firm has distinguished itself as the only minority-owned, full-service media brokerage in the United States and is one of the leading media brokerage firms in the nation.

Since its founding, the brokerage has received 10 full-power AM stations donated by iHeart Radio (formerly Clear Channel), Mega Communications and Entercom. MMTC has used these donations to incubate and train minority and women entrepreneurs to manage and operate broadcast stations — a pathway to ownership for many.

“We’re providing a unique service to the industry and the listening public by directly enabling the next generation of multicultural and women broadcasters to get their start in station ownership,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim M. Keenan. “No one else is doing that.”

This is a conversation with three radio owners who got their start through MMTC’s brokerage: [click to continue…]

Roberts to Join FCC OCBO’s Roundtable Discussion on Diversity and Government Advertising;
Sampson Leads Multicultural Delegation to SXSW Interactive

Steve Roberts and ROdney SampsonWashington, DC (March 17, 2016): The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) has welcomed two new members to its board of directors: Steven C. Roberts, Founder and President of The Roberts Companies, and Rodney S. Sampson, Founder and CEO of the Opportunity Ecosystem.  Roberts and Sampson have both been friends and advisors to MMTC for several years and were inducted into MMTC’s Hall of Fame in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

“It is fitting that as we celebrate our thirtieth year of advocacy on behalf of multicultural and women entrepreneurs, we have added two members to our team who embody the image of what multicultural success looks like,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim M. Keenan.  “With their leadership and expertise, MMTC will be even better positioned to facilitate newer and more innovative opportunities for diverse entrepreneurs.”

Steven C. Roberts to Join FCC Roundtable March 23

As Founder and President of The Roberts Companies, a privately held multifaceted business organization, Steven C. Roberts has created and managed over sixty companies within the past thirty years in various business sectors, including real estate, broadcasting, and wireless.  Among his many accomplishments, Roberts, who is based in St. Louis, Missouri, grew a Sprint digital-affiliated television network in the Midwest into the largest private cellular and broadcast tower real estate portfolio in the U.S.  Roberts has served on six public company boards in the banking, manufacturing, and telecommunications sectors, and served on the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age.

“It is an honor to join the board of an organization with such a rich history of working to improve opportunities for diverse entrepreneurs,” stated Roberts.  “I have known and supported MMTC for many years, with a strong affinity for the work that they do.  I look forward to working even more closely with MMTC as we continue to impact the nation’s media, telecom, and tech industries.”  [click to continue…]

A PDF of MMTC’s press statement is available here.

Prison BarsWashington, DC (March 10, 2016): The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a partial stay that prevents the Federal Communications Commission’s inmate calling caps from going into effect.  The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) is concerned that the court’s decision to stay will delay relief from the high calling rates imposed on inmates and their families.

“While the court’s decision approved reforms to other ancillary fees that were equally punitive for these families, the overall continued tax on the pain of these individuals continues to be both excessive and inherently unjust,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan.  “Until this issue is fully resolved, the incarcerated, their families, and the professionals who support them will continue to pay steep telephone fees for a broken system that should have been fixed decades ago.  Our hope is that this issue will be quickly resolved.”  [click to continue…]

At Dialogue on Diversity’s recent Internet Data Privacy Colloquium, MMTC Research Director DeVan Hankerson delivered a presentation on diversity in STEM education and employment, titled “Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Growth in STEM Industries.” Her full presentation is below, and a PDF is available here.

Issue Under Review: STEM
Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Growth in STEM Industries

Slide 1 - Issue Under Review STEM

What is the STEM Problem?

Slide 2 - What is the STEM Problem

  • Disparity: Gender and Race Based
    • STEM Employment
    • STEM Education
      • STEM Attrition
      • Social Perspective: Students believing they would be successful in the STEM professions
    • Implications of low STEM participation rates:
      • Developing technical knowledge and skills corresponding to the needs of the high tech industry.
    • Bright Spots, areas of further consideration
    • Discussion

Gender Disparities in STEM Employment

Slide 3 - Gender Disparities in STEM Employment

Among science and engineering graduates, men are employed in a STEM occupation at twice the rate of women.

  • —According to US Census data, Nearly 1 in 5 female science and engineering graduates are out of the labor force as compared with less than 1 in 10 male science and engineering graduates.
  • —The next generation of female STEM graduates are not fairing any better, among younger women there is much less growth.

Gender Disparities in STEM Education

Slide 4 - Gender Disparities in STEM Education

The overall percent of females interested in STEM majors and occupations is a surprising 46%; however, across all STEM areas, males consistently outperformed females in math and science, with the exception of the females interested in engineering and technology. [click to continue…]

Washington, DC (February 19, 2016): Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced two important items—the Notice of Inquiry on Promoting the Availability of Diverse and Independent Sources of Video Programming, and the Set Top Box Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)—both of which will potentially impact the future of television and the viability of diverse and independent programmers.

“MMTC agrees with the FCC that this week’s items are the beginning of a substantive conversation on issues that affect content distributors, programmers, edge providers, and more importantly, consumers,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim M. Keenan. “However, the Commission’s approach to making it more convenient for consumers to access programming on their devices is causing collateral damage in the video programming marketplace. Something is gravely wrong with an approach that picks winners and losers and pits the few successful minority programmers against one another while allowing large, non-diverse companies to profit from the content investments of much smaller, diverse companies. We can do better.  [click to continue…]

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 17, 2016): Yesterday, we lost a dear friend and giant in communications law and policy and diversity in the communications industries.  Dan Brenner, 64, died after being struck by a car while crossing a street in Los Angeles.  After an illustrious career as a communications lawyer, Dan left Washington in 2012 to accept an appointment by California Governor Jerry Brown as a Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles.

A former senior advisor at the Federal Communications Commission, serving two former FCC Chairmen (Hon. Charles Ferris and Hon. Mark Fowler), Dan also served as former General Counsel of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and he was a former law partner at Hogan Lovells.

“Dan was a highly respected colleague and mentor to many of us at MMTC, and a powerful voice and advocate for minorities in the communications industries over many years,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan.  “His spirit will live on through the momentous work he achieved in his lifetime.”

“Dan was one of the strongest voices in the industry for civil rights and minority participation in cable. His dedication is reflected in his service for eight years as a member of the MMTC Policy Committee and on MMTC’s New Internet and Telecom Policy Task Force,” stated MMTC President Emeritus and Special Advisor David Honig. “We have truly lost a great one.”

We will miss him dearly and offer our prayers to all of his colleagues, friends, and loved ones.  [click to continue…]

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 12, 2016):  The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), along with 16 leading national and social justice organizations (“Concerned Organizations,” listed below), recently filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the Commission to consider the unintended consequences of its recent set top box proposal on diverse and independent programmers.

The proposal under consideration, the details of which were released by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a fact sheet and blog post last month, could potentially cause significant harm to diverse and independent programmers and burden consumers with increased costs and lower consumer privacy protections. Specifically, the Commission’s approach could:

  • Adversely impact diverse and independent programming networks by establishing a regulatory mandate that allows device manufacturers to break up minority programming networks and repackage them as they see fit, disregarding the content licensing, distribution, promotion, and advertising agreements the programmers previously negotiated, and exploiting their hard work and investments to make their content more discoverable.
  • Harm consumers by establishing different regulation of the video marketplace and reducing legitimate consumer privacy protections.  Our joint letter points out that under congressionally mandated rules, cable, satellite, and broadcast industries would be regulated, while edge providers would not, affecting consumer privacy and other protections.
  • [click to continue…]

On February 11, 2016, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), along with 16 leading national and social justice organizations (“Concerned Organizations,” listed below), filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the Commission to consider the unintended consequences of its recent set top box proposal on diverse and independent programmers. The full text of the letter is below.

February 11, 2016

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), in partnership with 17 leading national and social justice organizations (“Concerned Organizations”), urges the Commission to consider the unintended consequences of your recent set top box proposal on diverse and independent programmers.[1]  Our organizations share the Chairman’s goals of consumer choice and enhancing competition among video devices.[2]  However, we strongly believe that the Chairman’s proposal could potentially harm consumers and diverse and independent programmers if manufacturers of these devices are given permission to ignore content licensing and financial agreements, and downplay consumer protections.  As Concerned Organizations, we are equally displeased that the Commission has failed to consider the absence of cultural diversity among the corporate beneficiaries of this proposal—especially popular video streaming or edge providers—whose business models are not currently producing or distributing nearly enough multicultural content on their platforms and investing in diverse content creators.  [click to continue…]