Copps, Barton at odds over broadcast proposals


Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has long been an advocate for a stricter and more frequent broadcast license renewal process that puts a premium on evaluating a stations commitment to serving the public interest, and reiterated his concerns in a recent speech. He received some pushback from Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX).

Copps has wide-ranging ideas on what the FCC should be holding broadcasters to account for, and in particular he wants each station to use its public folder to store proof that it is making a strong effort to serve its community with local news and public affairs programming.

He made a specific call for a demonstration that 25% of news programming is locally produced. He also wants each station to meet with its audience to discuss programming, and he wants the FCC to figure out how far it can go in forcing the disclosure of those who are funding political advertisements.

In a letter to Copps, Barton questioned whether the FCC should be involved in programming in any way at all. Barton said that the public has a wide variety of media outlets to choose from and does not need a federal agency deciding what it needs. He also expressed concern that Copps may be a proponent of bringing the Fairness Doctrine back to life.

RBR-TVBR observation: Copps said that his recommendations “…are neither excessive nor onerous.” In fact, they are excessive and onerous to the extent of being unenforceable. And you can add unsustainable to that. Even if there was a way for the government to examine all 24 hours of the broadcast day of each station in the US – and there isn’t — the courts would rightly shoot down the entire program-meddling proposal in no time flat.