FCC Commissioners Talk Spectrum, Content Regulation
April 13, 2010 at 3:55 PM (PT)
Broadband was on the minds of the three of the five FCC commissioners who appeared on the "WASHINGTON Face-Off" panel at the NAB SHOW in LAS VEGAS TUESDAY afternoon. Commissioner MICHAEL COPPS said he wants to move forward with taking spectrum from broadcasting to use for mobile broadband "as soon as possible ... I don't think we have any time to waste," and suggested that if spectrum is not reassigned to benefit poor areas, gaps between those areas and more affluent sections will increase.
Copps said the 'future is bright if it's done right' and told broadcasters 'it's yours to lose.'
Asked by moderator and NAB Pres./CEO GORDON SMITH whether the Commission is assuming over-the-air television will cease to exist, Commissioner MIGNON CLYBURN responded that she gets her television over-the-air. SMITH said that a "public option" needs to be available, and COPPS said the "future is bright if it's done right" and told broadcasters "it's yours to lose." He said broadcasters should "play to your strengths," which he defined as localism and diversity. Commissioner MEREDITH ATTWELL BAKER agreed, adding that choosing between first-class broadcasting and first-class broadband is a "false choice."
Indecency Gets Copps, Smith Hot And Bothered
SMITH raised the same indecency regulation issue he brought up in his keynote speech MONDAY, and COPPS said that the issue concerns him as well, suggesting that a majority of Americans want "something done" about "over the top" "mindless violence" or sexual material, but dodged SMITH's question about whether regulation or "voluntary codes" should be applied to the Internet, saying that "we need to have a national discussion about" applying public interest and decency standards to the Net.
On "protecting children," BAKER stressed the need to teach parents on how to guide their children in using media, whether broadcast or Internet. NTIA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information ANNA GOMEZ suggested that government intervention on behalf of parents may be needed to "gain their trust" for the Internet.
Copps Suggests Public Funds For News Media
SMITH asked the panel about the future of journalism, and COPPS called for public support for news media, recognizing that he might be called a socialist for raising the possibility of tax money being given to news media. SMITH agreed that the present burgeoning of new media has left less accountability in news media, but BAKER said she has "real concerns" about the FCC investigating the future of journalism, wondering what message the agency would be sending about a free press; she suggested that looking at loosening ownership rules might be a better way to encourage new approaches to journalism. CLYBURN sided with COPPS in looking to investigate how news media are evolving, saying that having the government investigate the media is "important."