Copps: Push for Kids Compromise

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Preaching to the choir, and one that considers him their "true champion," Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps called on the faithful Thursday to push the Republican-controlled commission to adopt the compromise kids DTV rules now before it.

That was one of three priorities Copps outlined in a speech to a kids activist-filled Children Now conference on marketing to kids.

The FCC passed kids DTV rules in 2004. They extend broadcast and cable kids ad limits to digital TV and set restrictions on Web links in kids shows, both in analog and digital. But a court fight--activists thought the rules didn't go far enough, the industry that they went too far--held up the rules until both sides struck a deal that Copps says is now stuck at the FCC.

As usual, Copps had some harsh words for the media. After the caveat that TV's power can be used for great and good, it is all too often commercial-laden, sex and violence drive "kiddie litter." he said that kids are too often seen as commodities to be trafficked in, and said that as the lines between ad and entertainment blur, the more pernicious their effect can be.

He also pitched the crowd, heavy with kids TV activists, to pressure the FCC to address the issue of interactive links in TV shows and to set some guidelines on that passage from the protected world of broadcast to a 'net bazaar bereft of any rules.

And last, but never least with the outspoken commissioner, he identified media concentration as the root of at least some of the potential evil, saying the FCC should be pushed into holding a hearing specifically on the effects of concentration on kids programming as part of its ownership review.

Copps said that in Los Angeles, the amount of kids TV programming had been essentially halved by consolidation. He pointed out that Children Now was studying the effects in other markets, and asked why the FCC wasn't doing the same.

Brandon Burgess CEO of ION Media Networks (formerly Pax TV) asked for some FCC help in getting a planned new family friendly network going, saying that getting carriage on cable was key. In the not so helpful department, he cited the recent FCC Adelphia merger approval, which lacked programming-carriage conditions except for sports networks. Copps pointed out he had voted against that approval.

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