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Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

A fight between Black-owned media and corporate America is heating up. The latest to jump into the fray: Sean "Diddy" Combs.

Why it matters: It's a new ripple in a decades-long battle to get businesses to diversify how they spend ad dollars, a critical revenue source for media companies to survive.

What they're saying: "We demand that Corporate America reinvest an equitable percentage of what you take from our community back into our community," Combs, who founded digital network Revolt, wrote in a new letter today.

  • "If the Black community represents 15% of your revenue, Black-owned media should receive at least 15% of the advertising spend."

Catch up quick: For weeks, there's been tension brewing between Black media executives and General Motors.

  • A group of Black industry leaders — led by media mogul Byron Allen — called out the automaker as particularly egregious for spending less than 0.5% of its ad budget with Black media. (GM disputes this figure).

Driving the news: The car company last week vowed to raise its share of advertising with Black-owned media to 8% by 2025, amid the growing pressure.

  • Combs name-dropped GM in his letter, after the company listed Revolt as one of the companies it advertises with.
  • GM has agreed to have "a series of meetings with Black-owned media over the next few weeks," a spokesperson says. (That includes Revolt, that company tells Axios.)
  • A previously scheduled meeting with Black media execs was postponed by GM CEO Mary Barra last month, the Detroit Free Press reports — causing more tension.

Where it stands: Combs says less than 1% of ad dollars went to Black-owned media companies in 2019.

  • A Procter & Gamble executive estimated last year that roughly 5% of marketing spend goes to non-white owned businesses.

The big picture: "We're literally making $1 out of half of a penny," Detavio Samuels, Revolt's CEO, tells Axios.

  • "In a world where advertisers only give you 1% of their total budget, or distributors refuse to carry you, you can't get the revenue to make the content your audience deserves," Samuels says.

The backdrop: Allen has long pushed for major companies to spend at least 2% of their marketing budgets with Black-owned media outlets, Axios Media Trends author Sara Fischer notes. Verizon this week became the latest to get on board.

  • The issue of a lack of investment in Black media channels came to a head last summer during the Black Lives Matter protests, as companies pledged to address their role in inequality.

Go deeper

How Minnesota's oldest Black-owned newspaper is covering the Chauvin trial

Screenshot: Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Interest in the Derek Chauvin trial is giving new reach to the state's oldest Black-owned newspaper.

What's happening: "People are reading us from all over the country," Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder community editor Mel Reeves told Torey.

Apr 8, 2021 - Axios Denver

Study: Black, Hispanic defendants face inequity in Denver courtrooms

Beth McCann is sworn in as Denver District Attorney at the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building in 2017. Photo: John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Black and Hispanic defendants are met with a "persistent set of disadvantages" in Denver courts, according to a new study commissioned by the district attorney’s office.

Why it matters: The prosecutor's office is a key player in criminal justice outcomes, yet an area of the system that researchers know less about.

  • District attorneys’ offices are widely considered a "black box" when it comes to how they prosecute cases, Stacey Bosick, the study’s author, told Axios.
  • The Denver DA’s Office is one of the first in the nation to open its data to a researcher for such a collaboration, Bosick said.

Details: The 44-page report examined equity in prosecution decisions from thousands of Denver felony cases. The findings include:

  • Cases involving Black and Hispanic defendants were less likely to be deferred to a probationary period before sentencing than those involving white defendants.
  • Cases involving Black defendants were 31% more likely to be dismissed during prosecution than those involving white defendants — meaning Black people were more likely to face charges despite scant proof.
  • White defendants involved in drug cases were twice as likely as Black or Hispanic defendants to go to drug court, which is designed to keep people out of prison.

What’s next: Bosick’s team is recommending deeper data collection and research, including examining cases that involve juveniles.

  • District Attorney Beth McCann will host a virtual forum today to share the study and push other district attorneys to examine equity in the criminal justice system.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.