FCC Holds Nashville Open Hearing
December 11, 2006 at 3:27 PM (PT)
FCC Commissioner ROBERT MCDOWELL wasn't there -- he issued a statement a half-hour beforehand saying he wouldn't make it -- but fellow Commissioner MICHAEL COPPS took the opportunity at the FCC's NASHVILLE open meeting on media-ownership rules to rip former FCC Chairman MICHAEL POWELL for loosening ownership restrictions "under cover of night" and saying that the court remand of the rules after public protest "shows that concerned citizens can still make a difference in this country." Making frequent country music references with recollections of his brother's being a HANK SNOW fan and a joke that he'll "probably be asking for autographs" from the country stars on the opening panel, COPPS decried the loss of country radio in NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES and noted that "last week came reports that WASHINGTON, DC may lose its last classical music station to sports talk radio," a reference to the rumored sale of BONNEVILLE Classical WGMS to DAN SNYDER's RED ZEBRA BROADCASTING.
I believe that the bargain that America made with commercial broadcasting has gotten wildly out of whack.
"In an era where minority ownership appears to be at shockingly and embarrassingly low lows, while payola allegations continue to raise their ugly heads, when infomercials and propaganda are passed off as news, and where license renewal has become a mindless pro forma farce," COPPS added, "I believe that the bargain that AMERICA made with commercial broadcasting has gotten wildly out of whack."
Commissioner JONATHAN ADELSTEIN's remarks were in the same vein as COPPS', wondering if ELVIS PRESLEY would have been able to reach an audience had radio in the '50s been the same as today. He admitted that the emergence of new technology and avenues like YOUTUBE have opened new ways to reach an audience but asserted that "broadcast radio continues to be the dominant way to break new artist and hear new music," referring to the strong correlation between radio airplay and music sales.
For his part, Chairman KEVIN MARTIN's brief remarks sounded a different note, saying that the proceeding is about "exploring and understanding the competitive realities of the media marketplace. Some of our rules have not been updated for years and may no longer reflect the current marketplace. Indeed, the Third Circuit recognized this fact when it upheld the Commission’s elimination of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban. It is our task then to respond to the Court by ensuring that our ownership rules take into account the competitive environment in which media companies operate and promote localism and diversity."
Both MARTIN and ADELSTEIN spoke about the need to end payola, with ADELSTEIN applauding the country music industry's "steps to mitigate" its payola problems and noting the success of independent labels in the past two years.