Update: FCC Committee for Diversity in the Digital Age

Seattle’s Tony Perez, Office of Cable Communications director, serves on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Committee for Diversity in the Digital Age. Tony shared with us some information from the Diversity Committee’s October 3, 2012 meeting.

FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel commented on the importance of developing policies to increase women and minority representation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs. According to the Commissioner, women currently occupy less than 25% and Hispanic/Latino and African Americans occupy only 6% of STEM jobs.  This is extremely important because STEM jobs are the fastest growing in our economy.

The Committee also heard from the Connect2Compete Program (C2C). According to C2C, 100 million Americans do not get broadband at home and 66 million Americans lack digital literacy. In addition to cost and digital literacy, C2C cited the lack of perceived relevance as an additional barrier to broadband adoption. C2C’s goal is to work with 10 cable operators in 20 states and community groups to bring Internet connections priced at $9.95 (for 2 years), $ 150 refurbished computers and digital literacy training to 500,000 students in 1,000 schools. During a two-month pilot in San Diego, 9% (819) of those eligible received discounted Internet service and 612 families bought computers through the program.

 

The Diversity Committee is also:

  • Discussing research indicating that the number of minorities in radio and television has remained static or is declining. The Diversity Committee expects to collect data from the largest 20 telecom firms, largest 20 media companies and largest 20 high tech firms to gain a better understanding of the extent of minority representation in those fields.
  • Sponsoring a study to learn about what barriers exist to minority ownership in media and what effect those barriers have on how minorities access critical information, such as emergency information and news related to healthcare, education, the environment and civic life. For example: is the media ecosystem providing Latinas with adequate information about cervical cancer and if not, could that be related to a lack of minority media ownership?
  • Working to develop a report on specific market barriers to entry for minorities in media and technology jobs and look at potential market-based incentives to increase hiring of women and minorities.
  • Studying the entrepreneurial opportunities created by unlicensed spectrum such as Wi-Fi. They are planning a workshop to raise the educational awareness level of minority entrepreneurs, women and small business owners to better understand the value proposition of unlicensed spectrum and hear best practices from those with experience on how to get new products and services to the market.

For more information on the FCC’s Diversity Committee work, visit FCC’s Committee for Diversity in the Digital Age or contact Tony Perez at tony.perez@seattle.gov.  You can also watch the October 3, 2012 meeting here. The Committee’s next meeting is in January 2013 at the FCC offices in Washington DC.