Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Free Press Freely Distorts Black TV Ownership.

February 25, 2014 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Over the past few months there have been several news stories about  no Blacks owning major broadcast TV stations anymore.  The cries have bordered on mass hysteria.  It turns out that the story is not true.

Most of this hysteria in the media has been created by a Free Press, a White, liberal advocacy group. According to their website, “Free Press advocates for universal and affordable Internet access, diverse media ownership, vibrant public media and quality journalism.”

They released their first report on the state of TV ownership in 2006, and found that there were only 18 Black-owned and operated full-power commercial TV stations, representing just 1.3 percent of all such stations.  By December 2012, those 18 had shrunk to just five. And now, according to Free Press, they’re all gone.

This report is false in many ways. First, there is the issue of context.  For example, what happens when Blacks decide to sell their stations like Bob Johnson did with BET or Mike and Steve Roberts from St. Louis (friends of mine) who were forced to sell their stations last year after they filed for bankruptcy?

The problem is that Free Press, while deploring the state of Black ownership, does not factor in situations where Black owners voluntarilyfree-press-2014 or involuntarily sell their properties. Therefore, reduced Black representation in the industry is not solely attributable to slamming the door in the face of Black investors.

As they say, figures can lie and liars can figure.

Again, taking a look at Free Press, they claim there are no Black-owned TV stations and consequently favor some type of government action to swell the ranks of Black ownership. Well, it turns out that there is at least one Black, Armstrong Williams, who owns not one, but several TV stations.

Last November 28,  Williams won approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to buy WEYI-TV, an NBC affiliate in the Flint/Saginaw/Bay City/Midland, Mich., WWMB-TV, a CW affiliate in the Myrtle Beach/Florence, S.C, and WMMP in Charleston, S.C. He obtained a $50 million loan from JP Morgan.

Williams acquired the stations from Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., the nation’s largest independent owner of broadcast TV stations.  They own and operate programs or provide sales services to 87 television stations in 47 markets, reaching about 27 percent of U.S. television households.

But Free Press does not count Williams as a true owner because Sinclair will provide some of the programing and sales support to his newly-acquired stations, which not an unusual arrangement, especially with a new owner.

Williams, a well-known Black Republican media personality, is the owner and CEO of Howard Stirk Holdings, Inc. a Washington, D.C. media company.

A  native of Myrtle Beach, S.C., he has extensive industry experience.  For more than 30 years, Williams has been a leader in media and content production.  He has developed and produced high quality television programs, including primetime specials with heads of state and key political figures. From 2001 to 2003, he served as Chief Operating Officer of the Renaissance CableTV Network with responsibility for all programming, advertising and content development.

Williams’ new relationship with Sinclair is akin to owning rental property or office buildings. It’s not uncommon to hire a property manager to handle the day-to-day business operations while all major decisions will be made by the owner.  In most cases, the owner is either too busy running other business ventures or is more comfortable with bringing in management with more specialized knowledge of the particular business.

In this case, Williams has the knowledge to oversee these stations himself.  What is amazing is that Free Press tried to get the FCC to block approval of Williams’ purchase.  But wait a minute, they stated: “Free Press advocates for universal and affordable Internet access, diverse media ownership, vibrant public media and quality journalism.”

Yet, they lined up to block one of the goals they profess to have – more diverse ownership. For the sake of argument, say they had some legitimate concerns about Williams’ management arrangement with Sinclair. Still, that wouldn’t warrant trying to prevent the sale of the television stations to an African American.

Given these strange set of events, the only conclusion I can reach is that the liberal advocacy group that claims to seek “diverse media ownership” does not want politically diverse Black ownership. There is no other way to explain it. There is no question that Williams is the certified owner of the aforementioned stations, the TV stations’ licenses are in his name and the loan from JP Morgan is in his name. That was enough to satisfy the FCC and should be enough to satisfy any reasonable person.

Free Press has proven itself to be anything but reasonable.

Staff Writer; Raynard Jackson

Mr. Jackson is also founder of a political and industrial consultant firm which is based in Washington, DC; Raynard Jackson & Associates.



2 Responses to “Free Press Freely Distorts Black TV Ownership.”
  1. bigbo says:

    this article is nothing more than an advertisement/bio for armstrong williams, the author thinks they are slick trick enough to leave out the fact that, the fcc an agency of the united states goverment, since the days of reagan deregulation has allowed radio and tv ownership in america to be in the hands of a few, the few being corporate goliaths, seems like many who like to champion intellect and being in the know slept on the fcc 2 years ago when it put out a memo telling women and minorities to seek the internet as the new frontier for media ownership do not look to owning traditional media. why? because the fcc is about keeping corporate goliaths in business, and truth be told internet media is carve up by corporate goliaths already.

  2. cicero says:

    I don’t know how our participation in that segment will give us a better foothold in the TV station ownership market. Owning local affiliates is like owning a franchise for McDonalds. You don’t dictate the menu… The menu is the PRIZE. Unfortunately the debate is framed so we jump through hoops to get to a franchise and not making our OWN menu.

    At this point our focus needs to be on our OWN product/menu and not a franchise that would provide advertisement dollars for the owners pocket. But it still doesn’t place you in CONTROL.

    CONTROL is what we strive to gain. The framework of the debate will provide the victor with a franchise….. Its 2014 and as we watch companies of today its all about CONTENT & INTELECTUAL PROPERTY (IP)….

    If I advised Mr. Williams, it would be to invest in content & IP…. Local stations/revenue will cap your upside potential.

    I think its a silly debate to say that we ARE well represented in the TV Industry and somehow someone’s playing with the numbers and we’re actually better than the statistics in this case. To verify the numbers…Turn the TV ON…tell me what you see??? BET isn’t black owned…TV One has no content or IP.

    I never heard of Mr. Williams and In an age where content is flying all over… I don’t know how successful he really could be or has been….But his content isn’t making any “noise” Reality TV is running things…come on TV veterans, the bar is set low….

    But when the majority pays for projects that are for the minority but mimic the majority’s view, see where the discord begins and never ends. Its a really interesting dynamic. You have the Minority opinion of the Minority better funded and given more access (by the Majority) when compared to the Minority’s Majority consensus view point.

    In Hood terms…. The whites bought out some black guys…. propped and paid them up… to reiterate the majorities claims…. Assimilation occurs as a reflection of the Majorities (rigged) policies. The proofs in the pudding or in other words the Minority of the Minority is drinking there masters koolaid. Since they (Majority) got all the money, power, etc. then blacks need only to mimic and success will ensue…

    And as long as the rich have wealth…there way must be the right way. As if the playing field is equal for all, and in this competition, the victor won a fair fight. If that’s the case how come all education isn’t priced or given out equally. Or How is it that Nepotism exist so prevalent… Look at the NFL…smh

    The Minority of the Minority…
    Job duties: 1 Reaffirm Old Narratives…check
    2 Reiterate The Majorities point of view
    3 Don’t Sound like “them” sound like “us”
    4 Tell everyone how scared the N word makes you
    5 Separate the Old From Young, Man from Women, with debate
    worthy topics, preferably with an outcome of the “pick your poison” variety

    Rinse & Repeat…

    Politically diverse…fighting real hard for the 5% of black America we never see at the Family Reunion…NICE! But they get 75% of Fox Media Coverage….at least we can find them on TV if not in our Community…

    LMAO How’s that working…are you benefiting your future grand daughter???
    Or will this perpetuate existing narratives???

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