The FCC, Live In Vegas
April 25, 2006 at 5:16 PM (PT)
FCC Commissioners MICHAEL COPPS, JONATHAN ADELSTEIN, and DEBI TATE were on hand for TUESDAY's edition of the NAB's annual "Regulatory Face-Off" panel in LAS VEGAS. The panel covered a wide range of industry topics but tended to be a reiteration of the Commissioners' previously stated views.
COPPS said that homeland security is his top priority but, while he praised Chairman KEVIN MARTIN'S efforts, he complained that "we are not ready for the next hurricane; we are not ready for the next terrorist attack. We've got to get ready." As in the past, COPPS cited media consolidation as a priority, echoed by ADELSTEIN, who added the DTV transition as his priority, and TATE.
On media consolidation, COPPS again called for "a comprehensive review of the rules" and for public hearings, voicing again his frustration over the Commission's inaction. "We can't afford to have this sent back again," COPPS insisted. "It's not rocket science."
On satellite radio possibly going after local ad sales, ADELSTEIN said he would be "extremely concerned" if XM or SIRIUS used terrestrial repeaters for local content but added that the Commission does not want to get involved with content on the national level.
Asked about indecency enforcement differences between broadcast and cable/satellite, ADELSTEIN pointed out that "we don't write the constitutional laws" and cannot regulate the non-broadcast services' content, but added that "it would be good in the long run" for broadcasters to remain under strict indecency enforcement because parents would be able to "trust" broadcast material. TATE voiced hope that broadcasters would concentrate on "positive" material because of their impact on youth.
On the changing technology landscape, COPPS joked, "I'm happy I'm not sitting in the audience" to deal with the challenges facing broadcasters but suggested that they be "more local." ADELSTEIN added that "there will always be a market for good content."
The Commissioners also discussed the digital TV transition and the possible "white spaces" without service that might be created as a result, the rollout of video services by television companies, public interest obligations for DTV multicasting, and the cost of TV station compliance with closed-captioning.