We agree that there must be a serious debate and action to address the abysmal lack of media ownership by women and persons of color. But we urge advocates and others to develop a strategy based on the broadband world that is emerging. Soon, many people will receive their [interactive] video and radio programming over PCâ€™s, mobile devices, and digital televisions. If we are to ensure that the new media landscape in the U.S. doesnâ€™t repeat the same market models and homogeneous control we have with broadcasting, cable, and satellite, action is requiredâ€”now. Powerful media behaviors are being developed that connect young people to the â€œalways-on, always connectedâ€ online world. We must make sure that the public interestâ€”especially diversity of ownershipâ€”is a fundamental part of this system. For it is the new media landscapeâ€”and its awesome powerâ€”that will soon help influence our consciousness. The outcome of elections and whether we are fooled into entering another war, for example, will be determined by how the digital media environment is structured. We shouldnâ€™t assume that on its own, the new media will automatically promote a Just and civil society.
Thatâ€™s why we hope that civil rights groups, media reform organizations and policymakers embrace a multi-faceted approach to bring meaningful change. Whatâ€™s needed now is serious investment by funders/backers to develop a array of digital media services owned and controlled by women and persons of color. A variety of business models, including community and cooperative ownership, must be explored. These services must be given access for distribution over mobile devices and digital television, in addition to broadband-to-PC service. There should be a myriad of such servicesâ€”including a new generation of public interest digital media outletsâ€”in every community. Obviously, we require national networks as well.
Itâ€™s too late to fundamentally change how commercial broadcast radio, television and even cable are structuredâ€”both in terms of ownership and business models. But the â€œnewâ€ world emerging is still somewhat flexible to shape it early on and make a real difference. Certainly, the media industry must be challenged to hire many more diverse executives and journalistsâ€”as well as invest in truly representative programming ventures. The FCC and Congress should be a focus for such pressure. But it is only by looking ahead and understanding what the media world is going to look likeâ€”as Rupert Murdoch did with MySpace, Google did with YouTube, Viacom is doing with some of its MTV properties, CBS, NBC et al. etc.–that one can hope to make a significant change.