WASHINGTON (AP) _ Publishers of newspapers aimed at minorities want a bigger slice of the federal government advertising budget.

``We're not getting a share of the pie. ... We would like to have the federal government let us know the reason why,'' Eddie Escobedo, president of the National Association of Hispanic Publications said Wednesday at a news conference.

``It disturbs me to no end that we have been slighted,'' added Dorothy Leavell, president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents black-owned papers.

Leavell said the groups have written to President Clinton about the problem, which she said has continued for years.

``We are going to give the president a chance to correct this,'' she said.

If Clinton fails to act, Leavell said, the groups will take their complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, contending that the advertising agencies that handle government agency accounts are violating antitrust laws by ignoring their publications.

Neither the White House nor the officials of the American Association of Advertising Agencies immediately returned calls seeking comment.

To pursue their effort, the two groups, along with the National Asian Pacific Publishers Association, have formed the Coalition of Minority Owned Publications.

In their letter to Clinton, the groups complained that minority publications received less than 1 percent of the $670 million spent on advertising by federal agencies in 1996.

Of the total, $117.5 million went to magazines and newspapers, according to Advertising Age. Andres Tobar of the National Association of Hispanic Publications said spending federal ad spending in minority newspapers totaled $3.35 million. That would be just under 3 percent of spending in periodicals.

Of the largest spending agencies, only the Department of Housing and Urban Development places ads in minority publications regularly, they complained.

Leavell is publisher of the Crusader newspapers in Chicago and Gary, Ind. Escobedo publishes El Mundo in Las Vegas.