Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps believes that the reported plan of the FCC to relax cross-ownership rules before fixing the problem with license ownership diversity is going to lead to yet another failure in the courts.
Copps, a staunch opponent of media consolidation during his tenure as a commissioner, is using his new platform at watchdog Common Cause to continue his efforts to block further deregulation of the rules.
In a recent commentary on the situation, he went to some length to describe the anti-consolidation positions staked out by Senator Barack Obama, only to have President Barack Obama’s FCC put forth a deregulatory proposal much like that of former Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
“The pending proposal does all this without coming close to meeting the demands of the Third Circuit federal court that refused to accept the 2007 rules (and a prior 2003 attempt to loosen the ownership rules, too) largely because those rules failed to deal with the lack of minority ownership,” wrote Copps. “What has changed in the interim, other than the statistics of minority ownership getting even worse?”
He added, “Does the Commission really need the court to tell it ‘no’ yet another time? That would be three—a strike-out where I come from. Let’s be clear here: the proposal currently before the Commission would make it decidedly more difficult for minorities and women to have their own stations.”
Copps said the Commission should deal with the many proposals that are already in front of it before worrying about any further deregulation. “It is time for the FCC to take a deep breath, change direction, and get on with the huge challenge of encouraging a diverse media environment that serves all of our citizens and that nourishes a thriving civic dialogue,” he concluded.