Copps Rips Broadcasters At FCC Public Interest Workshop
'Less News And Information, A Seriously Dumbed-Down Democratic Dialogue'
March 4, 2010 at 6:15 PM (PT)
At the FCC's THURSDAY workshop on the public interest standard for broadcasters and the new media, Commissioner MICHAEL COPPS ripped broadcasters and regulators for "drop(ping) the ball" on public interest programming, blaming consolidation and "three decades of horrendous decisions" by regulators for "the evisceration or outright elimination of just about every public interest obligation or public interest guideline we had." Saying that the result was "less news and information, a seriously dumbed-down democratic dialogue, diminished civic engagement, and the absence of meaningful public interest oversight," COPPS called for a change to "public interest oversight" to apply to traditional and new media.
a 'hidden architecture of network design tilt(s) the field in favor of ... big company control and consolidation in the new media that we saw visited so harmfully on traditional media
COPPS also asked, "As for the new media to which much of our media will one day migrate, how do we ensure that it serves the public interest and that it nourishes the civic dialogue and citizen engagement that democracy depends upon -- on a technology platform that has not thus far been much subject to public interest consideration?" He wondered how to guarantee that "minorities, women, the disabled, the poor, the non-affluent and the non-elite" have an "equal chance of being heard," suggesting that a "hidden architecture of network design tilt(s) the field in favor of the kind of big company control and consolidation in the new media that we saw visited so harmfully on traditional media."
COPPS was joined in his criticism of broadcasters and consolidation by former FCC General Counsel HENRY GELLER, who proposed a 5% spectrum fee in lieu of public interest standards, with the money turned over to public broadcasting, and MEDIA ACCESS PROJECT's ANDREW SCHWARTZMAN, who conceded that some broadcasters do a good job with public interest programming but suggested that license periods be cut to three years with additional public interest requirements.
The NAB's JANE MAGO defended broadcasters and said that quantitative standards would not be effective, preferring instead to let stations respond to their audiences' needs.