Ad Agency Trade Group Wants Media Buyers To Stop Discriminating Against Black-Owned Media

Ad Agency Trade Group Wants Media Buyers To Stop Discriminating Against Black-Owned Media

In the media-buying process, there’s a practice or directive known as “no Hispanic”/“no urban,” where ad agencies and the brands they represent exclude media owned by — or targeted to — African Americans or Latinos.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) recently issued a “Fair Play Charter” to its members in an effort to “to recommit to fair and equitable treatment of minority media owners,” the organization said in a statement.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2008 released a report and order on diversity, requiring that all broadcasters’ advertising contracts contain clauses ensuring that there is no discrimination based on race or gender in the sale of advertising time, 4A’s said in a press release.

Black-owned media
Louis Jones, executive VP of media and data for the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s). Photo: 4A’s/Charlestonchronicle.net

Louis Jones, the executive vice president of media and data for the 4A’s, said that as head of a media agency and as a member of the Media Leadership Council in 2011, he was familiar with the undercurrent of “no urban” dictates.

Jones credits Sherman Kizart, the managing director of Kizart Media Partners, and other industry insiders with raising 4A’s awareness about the “lack of clarity” around some of the decision-making practices in the media buying process.

Jones said that “these situations” happen from time to time and that it’s important for the 4A’s and its members to recommit to fairness in their business practices, New Pittsburgh Courier reported.

The Fair Play Charter works toward creating equal-opportunity access and equal consideration for all media, Kizart said. “It’s an important step toward helping to create a level playing field in the trillion-dollar media landscape.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he supported the efforts of the 4As, Kizart Media Partners, and minority media advocates to address discrimination in the media industry. “Everyone deserves a level playing field, and Fair Play is a crucial step towards achieving equal access and treatment for all, including eliminating discrimination,” Pai said.

Founded in 1917, 4A’s is the leading authority representing the marketing communications agency business. It serves 740 member agencies across 1,400 offices that control more than 85 percent of total U.S. advertising spend.

“It is important that we remain cognizant of unfair treatment and not let it affect industry practices or societal perception,” Jones said in a statement about the charter. “This is a great step toward raising the bar in the media community.”

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. The association welcomes the announcement about the Fair Play Charter and 4A’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the advertising industry, New Pittsburgh Courier reported.

“We believe that this can be a game changer for increasing awareness about the importance of fairness and equity in how advertising agencies conduct business,” said Chavis. “African American media companies play a major role in raising public awareness not only on the issues that affect the African American community but also on those companies and products that affect the quality of life of 47 million African Americans.”

The National Newspaper Publishers Association is the oldest and largest trade group representing more than 200 African American-owned media companies that reach more than 20 million readers in print and online every week.

A collaboration between 4A’s and the NNPA could lead to business opportunities, Jones said.

“This updated policy aims … to eliminate the problem of ‘No Hispanic, No Urban and No Asian’ dictates in the media industry,” Pai said while addressing the Multicultural Media & Telecommunications Council’s Ninth Annual Broadband and Social Justice Summit, according to Cablefax.com.

The Fair Play Charter also extends to include targeted media of other special-interest communities.

Here’s more on the Feb. 6 Multicultural Media & Telecommunications Council Broadband and Social Justice Summit from Cablefax.com:

The Summit also featured former FCC Chairman Dick Wiley, who expressed massive support for a broadcast incubator program being examined by the FCC’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment.

“Obviously, the devil’s in the details, but the basic concept of having a quid pro quo helping minorities and helping the stations get some media relief is great,” Wiley said, adding that he and former MMTC CEO David Honighad been working on just such a program for many years.

Larry Irving, president and CEO of the Irving Group and NTIA veteran, also supported such a program. But he cautioned the commission as it solidifies the details. “Having worked on the Hill and having worked at … promoting minority owners for years, one of the things I’d be very careful about is that it doesn’t become a dodge, that it doesn’t become a front,” Irving warned. “There is no greater way to lose support from the Democratic members of the House and the Senate than to have these programs become just another way for folks to expand their universe and put a front out.”