No Tacos Tonight

      Comments Off on No Tacos Tonight

It’s Friday night and you’ve got dinner plans. You’ve been looking forward to enjoying the delicious tacos at your favorite Mexican restaurant. The food is so good that you went there Monday night and now it’s time for another visit.

Oh, sorry! You can’t go to your favorite Mexican eatery. The federal government has a regulation that requires you to evenly distribute your restaurant choices among all available ethnicities. Since you’ve already been to a Mexican restaurant, you must select from Greek, Italian, Chinese, or one of the other styles available.

If you’re licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, this scenario is not quite the joke it appears to be. New guidelines from the FCC require stations to include a disclaimer on proposals to advertisers reminding them that discrimination in the purchase of airtime is illegal. This tactic is designed to prevent agencies from enforcing advertiser dictates for certain formats. No more should advertisers be able to say “No Hispanic” or “No Urban”. If you want to advertise, you have to advertise to everybody.

Of course, this flies in the face of the concept of targeted marketing and practices that have worked well for hundreds of thousands of advertisers for over 50 years. Managing several country music stations over my career, I was frequently faced with “No Country” dictates. While I thought the advertisers were short-sighted in taking that choice, we didn’t try to force the advertiser to buy our station. Of course, we weren’t the federal government. But even if we were, that approach would have been wrong. And it is wrong today.

In a free society, an advertiser — or a dining patron — should be free to choose where he spends his money. Forcing an advertiser to buy all the stations in a market without regard to format or target audience is typical bureaucratic thinking. It is not part of the fabric of American life, and hopefully common sense will prevail.

So enjoy your choice of restaurant — for the moment. We haven’t as yet progressed to the point where government is telling you where you can eat. But looking at this FCC mandate, one wonders if your favorite tacos might soon be on someones regulatory list.