African-American Broadcasters Experience Federal Advertising Cuts

June 26, 2013
Written by D. A. Barber in
Eyes On The Enterprise
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advertisement for an African-American television station
Many African-American broadcasting systems are facing an uphill struggle with limited funding from the federal government. Photo Credit:

The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters wonders why the hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government spends on advertising lost its way to African-American broadcasting stations.

"Of these expenditures, black-owned broadcast stations, and networks receive a very small share," said NABOB Executive Director, Jim Winston. "Many black-owned broadcasting stations receive no federal ad dollars."

The government is one of the nation's largest advertisers – a 2012 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, "Advertising by the Federal Government: An Overview," estimated the feds spent $750.4 million in 2011. That includes $473.6 million from the Department of Defense, and some for military recruiting. But according to NABOB, black-owned stations frequently hear about advertising placements by the government only after hearing those ads on competing stations because the government is not obligated to report where or when the advertising expenditures will be placed.

Black-owned radio and television stations are the voices of those racial groups within their communities, but because of the recession, many stations are silenced by bankruptcies or foreclosures. According to Pew Research Center's State of the News Media 2013, "Black-owned radio stations continued to wither in number and several programs hosted by major African American personalities went off the air. The year also witnessed the consolidation of two of the largest black radio networks."

NABOB says because of racism in corporate America and the "ongoing undervaluation of the African American consumer by major advertisers, Black owned stations and networks must charge lower rates than other stations and networks reaching the same size audiences." In other words, the government is overlooking an inexpensive means of reaching the black community.

"If the federal government fails to utilize the advertising vehicles that reach the African American public, it is virtually impossible for the federal government to achieve its informational and educational goals in our communities," says Winston.

Eyes On The Enterprise