written by Harrison Chastang

San Francisco...It should have been front page news. A Black own company makes a multi million dollar purchase of a television station in one of the top five markets in the country, but if you blinked twice you didn't read about in the morning paper. PRIVATE

Chronicle Publishing Company, which owns the San Francisco Chronicle, the largest newspaper in Northern California, the NBC affiliate KRON-TV and the cable news channel Bay-TV filed a challenge against the sale of KOFY TV to Black owned Granite Broadcasting, which also owns KNTV TV in San Jose, 60 miles south of San Francisco.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the sale of KOFY to Granite but also upheld the Chronicle Publishing petition and ordered Granite to sell either KOFY or KNTV by the end of the year, unless the FCC grants Granite a wavier to own both stations. Chronicle Publishing Company and KRON-TV did not return repeated calls questioning why they opposed the sale to Granite Broadcasting, but sources say that the Chronicle felt Granite should not be able to own two stations in the Bay Area.

It seems strange that the Chronicle and its partners Bay TV and KRON would oppose the purchase of KOFY by Granite. The Chronicle editorialized against Proposition 209 and the Chronicle, KOFY and Bay TV have been partners in a yearlong series on diversity in the Bay Area called About Race. KRON-TV has been a leader in hiring people of color for on-air positions and the Chronicle has hired more Black and Latin columnists and appointed an Latino director of the editorial page.

KOFY publisher Jim Gabbert specifically wanted to sell to Granite as a personal affirmative action statement in response to not only the scarcity of Black owned TV stations, but to counteract recent court rulings invalidating FCC affirmative action incentives to increase minority radio and TV ownership. Chronicle Broadcasting was the only Bay Area broadcaster to oppose the sale to KOFY. Why would Chronicle Publishing, which has the largest media concentration in Northern California, oppose the sale of a competing station to one of the only African American broadcasting companies in the country.

At a time when the Director's Guild says the number of Blacks in the entertainment industry has dropped significantly, corporations like Chronicle Publishing Company should celebrate, not oppose any increase in the tiny number of Black owned television stations. (Blacks own 28 of 1192 TV stations, according to the National Telecommunication and Information Administration 1997 statistics on minority station ownership. Granite owns 10 of those stations.)

Looking around the Bay Area, one can find many examples of the positive aspects of Affirmative Action in the news media. In San Jose the Knight Ridder Corporation named Jay Harris the first African American publisher of the Mercury News, The Oakland Tribune has a long tradition hiring Blacks to top editorial positions and African Americans have even worked in top editorial positions at the Gannett owned Independent-Journal in mostly white Marin County across the Bay from San Francisco.

While the other media in the Bay Area have not produced a year long series on media diversity, they have demonstrated their commitment to Affirmative Action by appointing African Americans to top news publishing and management positions. When it comes to diversity, maybe Chronicle Publishing should practice what it preaches and support the FCC waiver of Graniteís ownership of both KNTV and KOFY.

"Harrison J. Chastang III" is news director at "http://www.kpoofmsf.com/" KPOO-FM radio in San Francisco, one of the few independent, non-commercial African American controlled radio stations in the United States.

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