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MMTC Cites 'No Urban Dictate' From Mini Cooper Agency

August 12, 2009: The Minority Media and Telecommunication Council is ramping up its push for a compliance officer to enforce the broadcast nondiscrimination rule that was part of a 2008 FCC report and order on broadcast diversity. That rule was intended to do away with "no urban/no Spanish" dictates from advertisers or agencies that seek to exclude minority-targeted broadcasters from their campaigns.

In the letter, MMTC President David Honig asks FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to name a compliance officer "promptly," saying, "MMTC has calculated that minority broadcasters lose at least $200 million a year to NUDs and NSDs, compounding the financial difficulties these broadcasters face in the current economic climate. Minority broadcasters earned these revenues, but they never collect them."

Agency E-Mail

Attached with the MMTC's letter is a copy of an e-mail, dated August 5, apparently from an employee of the agency Palisades Media in Los Angeles. The e-mail requests rates for a Mini Cooper campaign in the Boston; Houston; Washington, DC; and Baltimore markets, asking about 30s in several radio formats and adding, "No combos or urban formats."

Honig writes, "The rule requires broadcasters renewing their licenses to certify on Form 303-S that their advertising contracts do not discriminate on the basis of race or gender and that they contain nondiscrimination clauses. Therefore, to remain in compliance with the rule, every radio station in the Boston, Houston, Baltimore, and Washington markets should decline to broadcast Mini Cooper spots."

Kizart Addresses The Issue

Kizart Media Partners' Sherman Kizart obtained the original Palisades Media e-mail, and he has written to agency CEO Roger Schaffner concerning the matter, saying the directive is "crystal clear" and "minimally very disturbing and troubling." He writes, "BMW Mini Cooper will not get the benefit of inviting the $900 billion African American consumer market to buy its cars. "

Kizart offers to work with Schaffner and Palisades Media Director Barbara Stein "to reverse this policy/practice." He also points to procedures adopted in May by the American Association of Advertising Agencies to address no urban dictates.

Kizart also notes that, given the markets named in the e-mail, Radio One is "clearly being put at a severe financial disadvantage" by the apparent dictate. Executives from Radio One and 4A's are copied on the letter.

Palisades Media declined to comment to Radio Ink on the matter.

(10/6/2011 9:20:45 PM)
this is marketing, advertising to the market that buys their product.

John Deere also doesn't advertise much in urban areas, because not that many people in cities buy tractors either. According to the article therefore urban media outlets are "losing" those millions of dollars spent to advertise tractors in rural markets.

- bill
(8/14/2009 7:09:33 PM)
I sold radio time for 20 years. Clients have had non-negotiable format proscriptions for decades. No matter if you had all the ratings in the world. Some wouldn't buy easy listening formats but their overriding fear was "controversy." They had become convinced that formats in which controversial subjects might be discussed were to be avoided. No exceptions, no discussion. Typical instructions would be, "NO RUSH, NO HOWARD (Stern)." The two were not similar and for some time had enormous ratings that everyone needed. Plenty of people tried to overcome this but rules against controversy were iron clad. No apologies were issued. Until now. Now you are forced to buy a format. Especially if it's urban and carries controversial talk which many do. Welcome to the police state.

- Ellen
(8/14/2009 12:55:37 PM)
That race card sure is getting dog-eared these days from being played so much. Let me get this straight - an advertiser has a product that is not especially popular with the black or spanish community, but not targeting scace ad dollars to those listeners is somehow racist??? Gimme a break!!!!

Radio One, et. al. need to work the same way everyone else does - you make ad money because you deliver buyers, not because you're "entitled" to it.

I remember in the early 80's when Richmond got it's first urban FM and, thanks to Arbitron's ethnic weighting, it moved into the #1 slot quickly. They picked a ton of national buys and I remember hearing Coppertone Suntan Lotion ads. This makes about as much sense.

- John in Richmond
(8/14/2009 12:14:52 PM)
This is a problem that has existed for quite some time. Most media buyers have just been smart enough to not put the No-Urban dictate in writing. I believe there is a cultural bias which leads to a misuderstanding and disconnect with understanding the value of the Urban audience by many agencies in the industry. The big question do we get past this kind of behavior by agencies...even when the policy is not in writing?

- Mike Chandler
(8/13/2009 3:30:59 PM)
Having a no unban dictate is not racist, it’s just plain dumb. The executive that came up with the dictate should be fired for incompetence. So much of what is deemed cool today got that way because of its association with popular urban culture and the music has been the key driver. I’m sure some smart guy with a pie chart showing who the current Mini Cooper buyer is lead to the dictate. Man once believed the earth was square as well. Urban dictates exit because companies allow executives who are out of touch with today multiethnic culture to make key decisions. I am African American, and I have worked in advertising for the past twenty years. The only thing I find offensive about no urban dictates is the sheer stupidity of marketers who allow them to creep into a media plan.

Ron Delaney

- Ron Delaney

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