Michael Copps: Watchdog


Michael CoppsWhen he was an FCC Commissioner, Michael Copps perhaps came as close to being a media watchdog as a commissioner possibly can. But now he is the real deal, on behalf of public interest group Common Cause.

Copps is being put in charge of the organization’s Media and Democracy Initiative, which seeks to prevent an over-concentration of political clout among a handful of communications conglomerates.

“Today’s information technologies have tremendous potential to give Americans access to information, connect us to the rest of the world, and strengthen our democracy,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “We can’t afford to let increasingly powerful and concentrated telecom and media interests use their muscle to control that future.”

“Working in Washington and through our network of state chapters, Common Cause’s initiative aims to restore and expand diversity, open access, transparency and public control in both traditional and new media,” Edgar added. “And in Michael Copps, we’ve found the perfect person to guide it.”

Copps battled against media consolidation early and often. During the 2002-2003 attempt by former FCC Chairman Michael Powell to deregulate ownership rules, Copps and colleague Jonathan Adelstein went so far as to hold public meetings all over the nation to drum up opposition. And whether or not this tour was a key factor in drumming up opposition or not, the fact remains that there was plenty of it.

Copps will be exiting Common Cause’s National Governing Board to focus on his new project. He said, “A number of other groups already are doing great work in this area. We are determined to bolster their efforts, using our national membership, organizing, and campaign experience, and our 35 state chapters to focus attention on, and build public support for, media reform. Without media that dig for facts, report real news, and reflect the diversity of our nation, self-government cannot endure.”