Diversity: Hazy Post-Powell Future for FCC’s Advisory Committee
With Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell departing in a few weeks, the direction of the Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age (got that?) he created in mid-2003 is not entirely clear. "[Michael Powell] and I had a conversation when he made the announcement [regarding his resignation]," says Jenny Alonzo, one of six cable industry executives serving on the FCC committee, which is charged with promoting career advancement among people of color in media industries, including cable. "I don’t think the work will slow down. The commission’s resources are minimal. We’re not distracting from other priorities." Alonzo, SVP of production, promotion planning and multicultural strategies for Lifetime and formerly president of NAMIC, says that as soon as a new chairperson is confirmed, the advisory committee will "get that person up to speed, and the work will continue." So far, the committee has released guidelines for best practices in diversity management, gathered from strategies pursued by Comcast, Cox, Sprint and Verizon, among others. At its last meeting in December, the advisory committee recommended that the FCC set up a diversity resource directory website, modify EEO rules pertaining to career advancement and promote small business opportunities. While nothing specific to the cable industry has been pursued by the advisory committee, Alonzo anticipates the group will, in the months ahead, look at ways to increase diversity at cable’s senior management level and attract venture capital for new minority-managed/targeted cable programmers.