FCC proceedings percolating under the radar


Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps told reporters that he’s trying to change the culture of the FCC, and to refocus its mission during his temporary time in top slot. “This is a consumer protection agency,” he said, and discussing government agencies in general, added, “Over the years … these agencies have become more opaque, and we have too often morphed into a referee between well-heeled interests.”

Copps has been focusing on process and trying to open lines of communication. That means getting information to the other commissioners as soon as he gets it; bringing commissioners staffs together, and bringing members of different bureaus together, all with the goal of transparency.

As for other issues, Copps made special mention of increasing minority ownership of communications licenses, and noted that it and many other proceedings are still moving forward within the appropriate bureaus. He said that despite the current focus on DTV, any time another issue is ready for a step, such as a public notice or NPRM, it would be taken. However, he noted that since he became acting chair, his own focus on DTV has not afforded an opportunity to think about very much else.

The next three open meetings are scheduled for 3/5/09, 4/8/09 and 5/14/09.

RBR/TVBR observation: Most broadcasters are fine with the concept of increasing minority ownership of broadcast stations – indeed, many groups have stations they’d love to sell, to anybody, right now. But there are other items, particularly in the localism proceeding, that have everybody nervous including existing minority owners. It will be critical to head off some of these localism prescriptions, like new and onerous main studio rules and archaic 24/7 staffing rules. It may be off Copp’s radar for the moment, but broadcasters better not let it fall off their own.