Federal Communications Commisioner Benjamin L. Hooks said yesterday he hopes broadcast industry officials and sources of financial backing will reexamine policies that make it difficult for black and other minorities to buy stations.
Hooks said he hoped a two-day conference at the FCC, which concluded yesterday, would focus attention on the problems minorities experience in attaining ownership in radio and television.
"I have become an expert on being turned down and off by every conceivable source of financing for reasons that have ranged from being well-founded to being shameful and utterly stupid," said Ragan A. Henry, president of Broadcast Enterprises Network, Inc.
FCC chairman Richard Wiley said "less than one-half of one per cent of the nation's 8,500 broadcast stations are owned by black Americans" and that other minorities have similar low levels of ownerships, statistics he called "very disturbing."
Government, industry and financial officials attended the sessions called, according to Hooks, "to bring together those who feel they are aggrieved" to make known their complaints.
Hooks proposed during the conference that the FCC require advance public notice when a broadcast station is bring sold so minorities will have a chance to bid for it.
Hooks said not only minorities but the public in general is unaware when a station is being sold and that minority parties particularly have compained that many of the most desirable properties are disposed of through an "old boy network" of station owners, brokers and station owner.
Paul Yates, president of the Sheridan Broadcasting Corp. and Mutual black Radio, called for congressional legislation that would improve opportunities for minorities to increase ownership in the broadcast industry. He said a committee of black owners was meeting with the Black Caucus to discuss such legislation.
Yates, also citing the existence of "good old boy" relationship among owners of major broadcast stations, said his company attempted to purchase "a major station in a major market" only to be told it wasn't for sale. It was sold to someone else a short time later, however, he said.
Rene Anselmo of Spanish International Communications Corp. chagred that broadcast ratings agencies and advertising agencies "don't want to know blacks exist, don't want to know Spanish-Americans exist . . . They are horrendously discriminatory and prejudiced."
R. R. Ridgeway of the Arbitron Rating Service said his agency is working to improve its methods of testing to take into account minority listeners. Richard Joners, senior vice president of J. Walter Thomspon and Co., read a letter from the company's president instructing that special efforts be made to place advertising with minority broadcasters, but said the ad agency "is not spending its own money. It is spending the money of its clients."
Anselmo said minorities should be given "the same liberal treatment given the original guys who got in this business . . . It was easy to get in the broadcast business 20 years ago." by the FCC. He also call for a "positive attitude."
Curtis T. White, a Washington lawyer, criticized the FCC for what he called a "curious neutrality" toward increasing minority ownership and called for "an affirmative action plan for ownership rights by the FCC."
Hooks said the attitude of "neutrality" no longer exists, while another FCC official said that a research contract recently had been let by the FCC to studey minority problems. "We hope to find remedies," hesaid.