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Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal

Abstract

Racial dissention and divisiveness continue to be among the most destructive and debilitating aspects of our society. Social scientists have raised serious questions about the role that television has played both in increasing the level of violence and intensity of racial disharmony in America. Most findings reveal that ethnic minorities are still negatively stereotyped as "criminals," "dangerous characters," or "clowns." The research literature also suggests that media distortions negatively impact the self-esteem of African- American children and may preclude them from achieving self-actualization or impede their ability to realize their full potential. In response to these and other concerns, the Federal Communications Commission has adopted policies aimed at ensuring "diversity of viewpoint" and the elimination of minority underrepresentation in the broadcasting workforce.

This article provides an analysis of the underlying purposes and rationales of the laws, rules, regulations, and policies adopted by the federal government and the court to ensure "diversity of viewpoint" in broadcast programming. It also includes a discussion of why the existing policies and federal programs have been unsuccessful in eliminating racial degradation on television and why "equal protection jurisprudence" fails at achieving this goal. The article also explores the establishment of a regulatory framework minimizing the effects of racial stereotyping through regulatory guidelines for non-minority broadcast owners. This discussion includes an analysis of First Amendment jurisprudence and a reassessment of the constitutional protections afforded and the freedoms guaranteed to members of the broadcasting industry.

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