FCC avoids conclusions in media ad-bias report

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The Federal Communications Commission staff, releasing its long-delayed examination of possible discrimination in ad buys on minority radio and TV stations, today offered evidence of discrimination but, in a surprise, held off making major conclusions. The report cited major discrepancies between ad rates paid minority stations and white-owned stations, and anecdotal information indicating that "the media buying practice is guided by ethnic/racial stereotyping, underestimations of disposable income, the desire to control product image, unfounded fears of pilferage," leading to "no urban/Spanish dictates" and "minority discounts." The report, however, said that more information needs to be gathered to determine whether price differences are due to minority discounts or other factors. The report recommended the ad and broadcast industries adopt a standards code requiring buying decisions be based on market research and that the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission develop a joint task force to develop a policy statement on acceptable ad practices.

Copyright January 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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