Using Broadband to Achieve Media Diversity and Equality in the 21st Century

Author: David Honig
Coverage Type: editorial
Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), 3636 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20010, United States

[Commentary] Several obstacles stand in the way of more robust media diversity in the broadband age. The largest impediment is the low broadband adoption rate among African Americans, Hispanics, and low-income households.

Although a growing number of minorities are using broadband to participate in the new media revolution, more than half of all African Americans and Hispanics remain without a high-speed Internet connection. These opportunities are only available to those who have adopted and actively use broadband at home or on a wireless device. An equally formidable impediment to more diversity in the emerging digital media sector relates to wireless broadband networks. African Americans and Hispanics are the most avid users of mobile data services, but without additional spectrum resources, carriers will be unable to provide more robust mobile connectivity. This spectrum crunch facing the nation will have a disproportionately negative impact on minorities if left unresolved. Minority participation in digital media will also be negatively impacted by a failure to address the nation’s spectrum crisis. In the 21st century, true media diversity is attainable. Digital platforms will be critical in helping to equalize minority participation in both the digital and analog media sectors. They will also assure diversity in the production, dissemination, and consumption of minority-focused content. But these opportunities are only available to broadband adopters, and many outlets for participating in the emerging minority media sector could be compromised if the spectrum crisis is not addressed immediately. Policymakers must work on several fronts to support further development of new media platforms and encourage more minority participation. Minority rights advocates must also work to ensure that more African Americans, Hispanics, and low-income households are adopting broadband and learning how to use it effectively. MMTC is doing its part as a member of the Broadband Opportunity Coalition, which has partnered with One Economy to launch a first-in-kind national broadband awareness campaign. Working together, we can achieve true media diversity in a nation that desperately needs it. [Jan 1]



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