Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The FCC Police

The FCC is a very strange organization. Like so many in Washington it is comprised in my opinion of people who are political hangers on, and all too often are unaware of the fundamentals of the technology, and at the very best somehow managed to attain a position of some power as a result of some connections. Strange place the FCC.

Now what makes it even stranger is Copps and his speech at Columbia. First the venue, Columbia is that institution which I am continually reminded of which denied me entry in writing from a dean because I went to a Catholic School, in 1960. MIT had no similar problem. So the venue was great, an anti Catholic institution, once, and perhaps still, the hot bed of Communism in the US, and an institution in my experience not known for openness and brilliance.

Copps stated:

For traditional media that remains so critical to our news and information: The Federal Communications Commission should conduct a Public Value Test of every broadcast station at relicensing time—which should occur, I believe, every four years in lieu of the slam-dunk, no-questions-asked eight year renewals we dispense 100% of the time now. If a station passes the Public Value Test, it of course keeps the license it has earned to use the people’s airwaves. If not, it goes on probation for a year, renewable for an additional year if it demonstrates measurable progress. If the station fails again, give the license to someone who will use it to serve the public interest.

What Copps fails to notice is that the people vote every hour on what they hear on radio, they buy the stuff that is hawked, or else the program dies. That is the free market approach. Air American just died, no one was interested. The market controls what is broadcast subject to at best extreme limits.

Copps wants as part of his program tests in the following:

Meaningful Commitments to News and Public Affairs Programming: Now what is meaningful public affairs. We have NPR, it already does that stuff...and it is all I can get in northern New Hampshire.

Enhanced Disclosure: Just what more do you want. Have you ever read what they must give the FCC already!

Political Advertising Disclosure: Are we all really that stupid? Does the good Mr Copps believe that we make our decisions on political advertising, how about the New York Times, oops, the First Amendment!

Reflecting Diversity: There must be every nook and cranny of diversity on New York radio, I can get WBAL and by the minute I get different opinions.

Community Discovery: Just what is this? Local ownership...that old saw made a lot of local pols rich in the past, buy a pol get a license. This is a business Mr Copps. What do you propose for XM/Sirius?

Local and Independent Programming: Copps wants local programming of at least 25%! The economics will just not allow this! He should try to understand what has happened to radio, and TV, well I think not.

Public Safety: I really thought this was done. If in the event of some regional or national disaster there is some Government plan, no?

No wonder nothing ever gets done in Washington!