Copps takes aim at ownership


FCC Commissioner Michael Copps (D) says there are five steps that must me taken before serious the FCC can consider further loosening ownership rules. Among his points are concerns about minority ownership, public interest and regulatory transparency. (1) Copps want the FCC to "[a]ct on the numerous minority ownership proposals by the FCC’s own Diversity Committee and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council." He notes that a big part of the Prometheus decision was a failure to adequately address this topic. (2) He wants the Broadcast Localism proceeding to be completed, including a reinvigoration of the license renewal process. (3) He wants the rules published for comment prior to the commissioners’ vote, unlike 6/2/03 where the vote on the rules was also their unveiling. (4) He wants issues about economic studies and peer review brought up by some members of Congress addressed. (5) He wants the rules to be addressed in a comprehensively rather than one piece at a time. On this count he said, "The media ownership rules constitute a single ecosystem. We cannot responsibly make changes in one area without considering the systemic impact. I’m on the look-out for any attempts to short-circuit the process."

RBR observation: When former Chairman Michael Powell (R) had his go at this, he tried to get it all done at once, which is part of the reason it fell apart in court. Copps has long suspected that Chairman Kevin Martin (R) may make the politically astute move of going for one chunk at a time, particularly in the case of loosening the broadcast/print cross-ownership rules. In the current political climate, do not be surprised to see Copps do whatever he can to play for time — and putting an ownership vote behind five additional steps would certainly fit in with that strategy.