Copps issues challenge to responsible broadcasters


The stance of Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps on media ownership is well known. He is a harsh critic of media consolidation, and sees very little good that has come from it. At the same time he recognizes the excellent work done by many in the broadcast community. At the 11/2/09 ownership workshop, he issued a challenge to the excellent – use this ownership review to stand up and make the case for strong local service.

His position is simple – in his view consolidated station groups with distant headquarters, focused on the bottom-line, Wall Street and massive debt-service, have been dropping the ball on serving their local communities and producing quality journalism, and he says this trend was already under way years before the recession rocked the economy.

When such a company is in the market with a committed local or regional broadcaster, it puts competitive pressure on the smaller local company that makes it much more difficult for the local company to survive, much less thrive, and diminishes its ability to continue maintaining high quality local content.

RBR-TVBR observation: We’ve heard complaints over the years from smaller broadcasters, who make up the vast majority of licensees. It’s easy for a consolidated, multi-market company, with a lot of stations in a local market, to do things to make life miserable for its smaller competitors. It can drive rates down, it can attack specifically-formatted stations, it can outbid locals for sports and quality syndication programming, it can throw in temporary game-changing amounts of cash, it can do all kinds of things.

Is this a problem? The FCC wants to know, and so do we. The space to state your case is right below this paragraph. Please share your thoughts.