The Federal Communications Commission has started an auction that allows Howard University in the nation’s capital to sell off WHUT, the nation’s only black owned broadcasting station.
The sale of Howard’s WHUT is a wake up call for diversity in the media industry, according to Wade Henderson, an alumnus of Howard University and the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
In a post on The Root, Henderson writes, “…For years, the FCC has watched female and minority ownership of broadcast stations dwindle without much concern for the real-world implications of having our broadcast airwaves run almost exclusively by white men.”
He continued, “After ignoring 12 years of court orders to address this problem, the FCC has started an auction, allowing Howard University to sell off the very valuable broadcast airwaves of WHUT, our nation’s first and only black-owned public TV station.”
He also questioned the FCC, who he says wrongly put Howard solely responsible for WHUT’s survival:
That’s a burden for the FCC to bear, not Howard. But that hasn’t stopped critics from unfairly criticizing the university for selling the spectrum, which will likely go on to be used by wireless phone companies, earning hundreds of millions of dollars for the school and its students.
“The FCC’s inaction comes at a significant cost for the black community’s prospects to include its perspectives and stories in the media. Out of 1,784 commercial broadcast television stations in this country, only seven are owned by African Americans. These rates are not much better for women or other people of color.
As a result, the media exaggerates black criminality, unemployment and poverty. And because local news is the main source of news for the vast majority of people and dominates the political discussion in our country, these distortions have real-world effects on how people treat and view African Americans.”
Head over to The Root to read more.