Copps Calls For Three-Year Renewals; NAB Protests
May 14, 2009 at 1:34 PM (PT)
Acting FCC Chairman MICHAEL COPPS told a session at advocacy group FREE PRESS' "Summit: Changing Media" in WASHINGTON TODAY (5/14) that license renewal periods should be shortened to three years with stringent public interest requirements as part of undoing the loss of what he called the "democratic dialogue" in broadcasting.
"Two decades of mindless deregulation," said COPPS, have been responsible for "in bringing our economy low and endangering the essential civic dialogue on which democracy depends," leaving the nation "are skating perilously close to depriving our fellow citizens of the depth and breadth of information they need to make intelligent choices about their future." "All that consolidation and mindless deregulation," insisted COPPS, "rather than reviving the news business, condemned us to less real news, less serious political coverage, less diversity of opinion, less minority and female ownership, less investigative journalism and fewer jobs for journalists."
Denying that his call for nurturing the "democratic dialogue" is a call for the return of the Fairness Doctrine ("long gone and it’s not coming back -- as much as some conspiracy theorists see it lurking behind every corner"), he insisted that "old media is not dead" and will be "with us a while still," meaning that, in his view, the license renewal process needs to be "reinvigorated" with "clear standards that can be fairly but vigorously enforced. It is time to say goodbye to postcard renewal every eight years and hello to license renewals every three years with some public interest teeth."
NAB: Wrong Proposal, Wrong Time
The NAB was none too pleased with COPPS' proposal as NAB EVP DENNIS WHARTON responded with the following statement:
"NAB would respectfully oppose attempts to shorten license renewal terms. Congress wisely reformed license renewal terms to allow broadcasters to better compete against our pay platform competitors. Reducing a broadcaster's term of license would actually harm localism by injecting greater uncertainty into a business model facing the worst advertising downturn in decades."