WASHINGTON – Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to immediately address the issues of minority, women and small business media ownership before taking up a second review of wider media ownership rules.

In June 2004, the FCC issued a public notice seeking comment on ways to increase the number of minorities, women and small businesses who own media outlets. There has been no movement on this proceeding since. Senator Kerry and Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) were successful in attaching an amendment to the massive telecommunications reform bill recently considered by the Senate Commerce Committee requiring the FCC to move forward with its proceeding to expand media ownership diversity.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, Kerry and Obama requested that the agency address the issue now and not wait for the telecommunications bill to become law.

“We urge prompt completion of the proceeding and…urge you to complete the proceeding before consideration of broader media consolidation issues begins in earnest,” Kerry and Obama wrote. “The goals of promoting minority, women, and small business ownership in the communications industry are set forth in the Communications Act of 1934. …Ensuring that such directives are accomplished is important to achieving a diverse media, particularly in an era of increased media concentration.”

“Two years ago the FCC publicly committed itself to increasing minority, women and small business ownership, but they haven’t moved an inch,” said Kerry, top Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and member of the Commerce Committee. “Further delay won’t level the playing field for minority, women and small businesses trying to compete in the media industry. The diverse voices in our country should be in the game, not left on the sidelines.”

To read the Kerry-Obama letter to the FCC, please click here.