Copps: Maybe Broadcasters Deserve To Lose Their Spectrum

FCC commissioner also criticizes media coverage of ownership issues

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps took it to broadcasters again Tuesday, saying that if the FCC can't rejuvenate shuttered newsrooms, put the brakes on "mind-numbing 'monoprogramming' and otherwise turn the tide (he calls it a "tsunami"), of consolidation, then "maybe those who want the spectrum back have the better of the argument after all."

He was referring to calls from wireless and computer companies, and an FCC outreach to broadcasters, to reclaim some, or even all, of their spectrum for wireless broadband.

Copps was delivering the opening statement at the FCC's second of three hearings this week teeing up its 2010 quadrennial review of media ownership rules. He echoed some of the criticisms he leveled Monday in kicking off the quadrennial review, which is mandated by Congress.

Copps complained that the first hearing Monday, which featured academics, was not well covered by the media. He said he did not see Tuesday's press galleries teeming either, and wondered what was more important in town.

He has criticized major media for under-covering the media ownership issue before.

Copps argues that consolidation has only been slowed by the tanking economy, whose problems he ascribed to the kind of policies he has been complaining about in media for years.

Copps laid into "financiers and see-no-evil regulators" who have made it harder for what he characterized as the thinning ranks of broadcasters still trying to serve the public interest. He said the FCC has been asleep at the switch when it wasn't actually being destructive.

The FCC has divided up the panels into academics, public interest groups, and industry, with broadcasters getting the chance to tell their side of the story Wednesday (Nov. 4).