Copps’ Plea: Lobby FCC

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Michael Copps would like to land another five-year term as an FCC commissioner after his tenure formally expires June 30. The Democrat requires renomination by President Bush and confirmation by the Senate if he’s going to remain at the FCC—and given that the president hasn’t announced his intentions, you’d think Copps would observe the Washington tradition of keeping his head down to avoid ticking off anyone who might be able to poison his chances. But Copps has never been known as a shy and unassuming commissioner, and apparently he doesn’t intend to become one now.

In a speech before anti-­media consolidation activists at the National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis in mid-May, Copps urged them to mount a grassroots campaign when the FCC tries to rewrite broadcast ownership deregulation thrown out by federal judges last summer. “Those awful rules that an FCC majority passed two years ago to loosen our media protections have been sent back to us by the courts. That’s the good news,” Copps told crowd. “The bad news is they were sent back to whom? To the very same folks who dreamed them up in the first place. They screwed it up once. Believe me, they’re 100% capable of screwing it up again.” Do these FCC “folks” include FCC Chairman Kevin Martin? The same Kevin Martin who was a Bush campaign aide and who remains tight with the White House that holds Copps’ renomination in its hands? Er, apparently not. We asked Copps’ office for a clarification and were told that the boss was “referring to the FCC as an institution and certainly not to the chairman.” Then, as aides will, they told us the “real story” to report is “the close working relationship between the chairman”—Martin—“and the senior FCC Democrat”—Copps—“for the first time in years.”

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