Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps said media deregulation is “dangerous,” news and entertainment have deteriorated, public-interest protections have “weakened and withered” and TV stations’ service to their local communities must be measured by more than blood drives and fund-raisers.
In remarks Copps planned to give at an FCC hearing on broadcast localism in South Dakota Wednesday night, the Democratic commissioner said American communications has deteriorated under deregulation.
“We are paying a terrible cost, both in the kinds of homogenized entertainment Big Media sends our way and in the news and information upon which our democratic dialog depends,” he said.
Copps, the commission’s most outspoken media critic, told the community members in attendance that he wanted to know whether they thought local broadcasters were airing too much sex and violence.
And he told broadcasters that he wanted to hear about more than blood drives. “I hope the panelists will resist the temptation to catalog all of their non-broadcast efforts,” he said.
Copps did say that he believed the vast majority of broadcasters are committed to serving their communities and the public interest.
Copps and Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, the other Democratic appointee, were the only commissioners in attendance. Chairman Michael Powell, who proposed this round of public hearings, had planned to be there, as he has at the earlier two hearings in Charlotte, N.C., and San Antonio.
Powell instead flew back to Washington for a private dinner with the President (Powell had been in South Dakota early Wednesday to keynote an Indian telecommunications summit held in conjunction with the localism hearing.)
The absence prompted Copps to note that, "since our commission colleagues are not in attendance [all Republicans], this reminds me very much of the media ownership hearings Jonathan and I held around the country last year before the commission voted -- over our dissent -- to let Big Media get even bigger."