FCC Diversity Committee Primed for Action at Inaugural Meeting

FCC Diversity Committee Primed for Action at Inaugural Meeting


After a three-week nomination period, and a little over two months of deliberation, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his picks for the newly chartered Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE) last Friday, September 8, 2017. He has appointed Julia Johnson, who previously chaired the Commission’s Diversity Committee under then-FCC Chair Michael Powell, to lead this body over the next two years.

Hewing to Chairman Pai’s Digital Empowerment Agenda goals, this committee will “provide recommendations to the FCC on how to empower disadvantaged communities and accelerate the entry of small businesses, including those owned by women and minorities, into the media, digital news and information, and audio and video programming industries.” It will also devise “recommendations on how to ensure that disadvantaged communities are not denied the wide range of opportunities made possible by next-generation networks.”

In fulfilling its mission, the Committee will be divided into three working groups: Broadcast Diversity and Development, Digital Empowerment and Inclusion, and Diversity in the Tech Sector. “Progress in this next digital frontier requires us to  focus on the kind of society we hope to create,” Johnson said, “one where digital equity and opportunity is available to all people, including the forgotten masses in the Rust Belt, Middle America, in rural and urban areas, and in Underserved or Economically Depressed Communities. Only then will we be able to meaningfully connect the disconnected while providing greater broadband opportunities for all.  I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Chairman Pai on ACDDE.”

Johnson is joined on the committee by a slew of notable civil rights, social justice, community and business leaders, non-profit practitioners and academics, as well as communications and media executives, owners, operators, and advocates, including:

  • ACDDE Vice Chair Diane Sutter, ShootingStar Broadcasting
  • Kathleen Abernathy, Wilkinson Barker Knauer
  • Maria Brennan, Women in Cable Telecommunications
  • Rudy Brioche, Comcast Corporation
  • Victor Cerda, V-me Media
  • Brigitte Daniel, Wilco Electronic Systems
  • Jannette Dates, Howard University School of Communications
  • Linda Spradley Dunn, Odyssey Media
  • Donna M. Epps, Verizon
  • Andre Fernandez, CBS Corporation
  • Maurita Coley Flippin, Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council
  • Heather Gate, Connected Nation
  • David Honig, JulGlo Productions
  • Janice Bryant Howroyd, Act-1 Group
  • Dr. Ronald Johnson, The Wireless Infrastructure Association
  • Sherman Kizart, Kizart Media Partners
  • Fatema Kothari, San Francisco Bay Area Internet Society
  • Javier Palomarez, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Henry Rivera, Emma Bowen Foundation
  • Alfredo Rodriguez, Dish Network
  • Brian Scarpelli, ACT/The App Association
  • Cindy (Xin) Shao, Asian American Chamber of Commerce
  • Marie Sylla-Dixon, T-Mobile USA
  • Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee, Brookings Institution Center for Technology Innovation
  • Brent Wilkes, League of Latin American Citizens
  • James Winston, National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters
  • Chris Wood, LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute.

Noting his pleasure with being selected to support this effort, committee member Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, said “Millions of Americans are trapped in the digital divide.  Most of whom live in rural areas, are low-income or only have access to the Internet via their mobile phones, which has its limitations.  This Advisory Committee will counsel the FCC in addressing the kinds of communications issues that disproportionately affect marginalized communities to help bring tens of millions of Americans online and further diversity in the industry.”

Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, Fellow – Governance Studies in the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution said, “the new advisory committee will be significant to Chairman Pai’s legacy as more diverse users, owners, and creators access existing and emerging communications. I look forward to a productive committee that will work to complement and when necessary, improve upon the Commission’s agenda.”

Echoing those sentiments, Mario H. Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund said, “I am excited and honored to join an advisory committee that will give advice and insight to the FCC on ways to help strengthen businesses and empower consumers with the latest innovation and technology. In order for all Americans to achieve the American dream, it is important that hard-working families have access to modern tools and resources—and certainly technology is a huge component of that.”

By the same token, Ron Busby, President and CEO of the US Black Chambers, Inc. told Politic365 that serving on the FCC Diversity Committee is a huge honor. Acknowledging the work he does to advance the interests of Black businesses across the country, many of whom represent media outlets – TV, radio, and news outlets – Busby explained that “it is important for the USBC to have a voice at the FCC because we understand the importance of diversity and ownership, and we want our members to have an ownership stake in the game and a meaningful seat at the table in framing the policies that impact this space.”

The Commission will host its first meeting of ACDDE on Monday, September 25th.



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