The Small Business Administration is considering granting loans for the purchase of broadcast properties, Richard E. Wiley, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said yesterday at a conference of a minority communications watchdog group.
"A major impediment to minority ownership has been insufficient funds. The SBA has agreed to reconsider their lont-standing policy about not giving money ot broadcasting ventures," said Wiley at the opening session of the National Black Media Coalition's three-day meeting here.
"If the ruling is changed, minorities will find a pool of capital that would help the purchase of properties in the free-enterprise market."
Pluria Marshall, the president of NBMC, the only black group that continually monitors the broadcast industry for employment practices, programming, and ownership issues, said the SBA action "is a step in the right direction. I think it will encourage other financial institutions to be more receptive to minority loan applicatons. What I hope doesn't happen is a government bureaucracy snag on the applications."
The possibility of change in the SBA rulings, which excluded broadcast investments because of the question of government censorship, grew out of a conference on minority ownership the FCC and the NBMC held in Washington last April. Minority owners have less than one per cent of the broadcast properties in the United States. Wiley and Benjamin L. Hooks, a former FCC commissioner and now executive director of the NAACP, presented the propsal to Vernon Weaver, administrator of the SBA.
Actually, the new proposal would apply to all businessmen, not only minorities. "It may have a greater impact on minorlities than others because minority access ot the capital needed for purchases like this has been limited," said paul Lodato, a spokesman for SBA. After SBA writes the rule change, it must give the public time to comment before it is amended, scrapped or adopted.
About 50 people from as far south as Atlanta. Ga, and as far west as Oakland, Calif., attended yesterday morning's sessions at the FCC and the afternoon seminars at the Metropolitan Hotel. The NBMC has 75 affiliates around the country.
Commenting on the U.S. commission on Civil Rights, which recently issued a report on women and minorities in television, Marshall said he agreed with the findings of widespread discrimination in the industry but said the commission itself lagged in its responses to groups such as the NBMC.
"Every time we asked them for help they acted as if we were asking for the payroll bag. We can't count on them for anything in our fight," said Marshall.
The conference continues through Sunday at the Metropolitan. 1143 New Hampshire Ave.NW. CAPTION:
Picture, Pluria Marshall, president of the National Black Media Coalition, left, and Richard E.Wiley, chairman of the FCC. By Douglas Chevalier - The Washington Post