Somebody call the Copps


Ryan Blethen of the Seattle Times is looking forward to a new brand of media policy under the presidency of Barack Obama. And he thinks the man to lead the way for Obama is already sitting at the FCC – Democrat Michael Copps.

“Barack Obama’s victory is good news for the media reform movement,” wrote Blethen. “Substantive media issues did not come up much during the presidential campaign and only briefly during the primaries. Even though little was said about issues such as media consolidation and network neutrality it was very clear that Obama understood the importance of good media and technology policy. He spoke against media consolidation and supported net neutrality.”

Blethen went on to praise Copps and Jonathan Adelstein for forwarding such principals while in the minority at the Commission over that last several years. He said that while there are many who would make a good chair, both Copps and Adelstein have demonstrated passion for media policy, and that Copps in particular would be has “an easy pick.”

RBR/TVBR observation: The phrase Chairman Copps no doubt will send chills down the spine of many broadcasters. It’s not even that his goals are wrong – it’s just that it is often hard to see how a proposed broadcast obligation gets us to the goal.

For just one example, imagine a citizens board meeting with a general manager and program director once a quarter. The citizens may well have gripes about the programming. Not enough game shows. Too many Kenny Rogers songs. It will be all well and good, but it would not form a basis for making programming decisions, because there are all kinds of factors that go into such decisions which citizens a) are in no position to make; and b) in fact, do make in the form of information transmitted to station management in the form of ratings.

It might actually be a good idea to hold regular meetings with a panel of your biggest fans. But if their role is anything more than advisory, it will simply be a recipe for going out of business as often as not.

If Copps were to use the FCC chair as a bully pulpit, that would be one thing. If it becomes a perch from which to ram through onerous and flawed regulation, it’ll just lead us right back to the courts.