On Thursday, John Kerry addressed a panel hosted by Rep. Caroline Cheeks Kilpatrick on minority advertising issues at the Congressional Black Caucus’s 36th Annual Legislative Conference.
Kerry stressed the importance of fairness in minority advertising contracts and questioned the Bush Administration’s commitment to minority firms.
“The Bush Administration is leaving America’s minority entrepreneurs behind,” said Kerry. “We need to shed light on the fact that this Administration breaks its promises to the minority and disadvantaged small businesses that are fighting to get their fair share of federal contracts.”
Kerry’s remarks focused on the Administration’s failure to adhere to a 2000 Executive Order which directed all federal agencies to “take an aggressive role in ensuring substantial minority-owned entities’ participation…in federal advertising-related procurements.” A recent GAO report showed that seven federal agencies spent $1.62 billion on media contracts between 2003 and the first half of 2005, and Kerry is concerned this federal support is still not reaching minority firms. In May, Kerry requested an investigation into what portion of this $1.62 billion was awarded to minority businesses.
Senator Kerry also addressed the issue of media ownership diversity; an issue the Senator tackled during the Commerce Committee’s consideration of telecommunications reform. He said, “Without putting the proper safeguards in place, consolidating media markets would make it more difficult for minority entrepreneurs to own and operate media outlets. To foster the creation of a diverse, dynamic media, we need to fiercely promote opportunities for minorities, women, and small business ownership in the communications industry.”
During the Committee’s mark-up, Kerry offered an amendment with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) to require the FCC to address the issues of minority and small business media ownership before taking up wider media ownership issues such as the consolidation of media markets. It was adopted by the Committee unanimously.