Broadcasters are committed to improving diversity in the industry and creating new opportunities for women, people of color and other underrepresented communities. Since 2000, the NAB Leadership Foundation’s cornerstone initiative has been the Broadcast Leadership Training program, which has a strong track record of preparing women and people of color to purchase and run radio and television stations.
“The Broadcast Leadership Training Program was an absolute turning point in my career. It exposed me to the facets of broadcast leadership on a much higher level,” says Lori Waldon, president and general manager, KOAT-TV, Hearst Television. “I gained both invaluable knowledge and the hands-on tools needed to run a successful television station, literally from the ground up. When I graduated from the program, I no longer just wanted a seat at the table. I wanted to sit at the head of the table. That dream has come true.”
Despite broadcasters’ support for programs such as this, access to capital remains one of the primary barriers to media ownership. Unfortunately, the most impactful program to expand diversity in broadcast ownership – the Diversity Tax Certificate Program – was eliminated by Congress in 1995. That program had provided tax incentives to those who sold their majority interests in broadcast stations to minorities, and broadcasters support legislation to reinstate it. In the 116th Congress, broadcasters supported the Expanding Broadcast Ownership Opportunities Act of 2019 (H.R. 3957 and S. 2433) to encourage broadcast station ownership for women and people of color.
Reinstating the Tax Certificate Program at the FCC would encourage investment in broadcast station ownership for women and people of color and dramatically help underrepresented voices realize their dreams of radio and television station ownership.
As Gordon Smith penned in an op-ed last year, “A local media landscape that reflects our communities on the air, in the control booth and in the boardroom has long been a priority for America’s radio and television broadcasters. Yet, we cannot accomplish this goal alone.”
Congressional passage of legislation reinstating the tax certificate would be a much-needed step toward creating a more diverse broadcast industry.