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Michael Copps Talks the Talk

The rest remains to be seen, of course.  I found this speech given by Commissioner Copps on April 9, at the National Conference for Media Reform in Boston, MA interesting.  He gets this part exactly right:

We see investigative journalism on the endangered species list, hundreds of newsrooms shuttered, reporters fired by the thousands, walking the street looking for a job instead of a story. And it didn’t start with the Internet because the process of media being high-jacked by the profit-at-all cost gang has been going on for decades. For the consolidated owners of radio and TV, the license to broadcast became a license to despoil. Visions of sugarplums danced in their heads–spectrum that belonged, they decided, to them rather than to the people.

And this:

Left to their own devices, these absentee landlords would put local and independent programming on a starvation
diet and feed us instead monotonous homogenized music and mindless infotainment masquerading as “news.”

And that has already happened in many places.  The issue with traditional media in general is that the public can smell a rat.  Watered down, syndicated “news” whether on the TV, radio, newspaper or news-magazine is not fooling anybody.  When he was the president, Bill Clinton chided the American public for being cynical.  I’d suggest that it wasn’t cynicism but fatigue due to lies.  The degree to which licensees have ceded control of their stations to bankster masters is not known.  I would hazard that it is far more common than not.

To some extent, “new media” has filled the vacuum.  People in search of information and things they have, in the past, found on radio and TV now look to the internet.  Youtube has become the launching platform for new music.  News from all over the world is available with the click of a mouse.  The problem with the internet is miss-information, either by ignorance or design.  The other issue is it can be hard to come upon local news.  I can read all about the tsunami in Japan, but try and find out what happened at the local school board meeting, good luck with that.

The question is; how to unscrew this mess, return competitive and credible media to this country.  Further, this should be done without increasing administrative burden to licensees or increased enforcement and other expenses to the FCC.  It should be a simple idea, like requiring a certain number of programming hours be live, from the main studio, putting the main studio back within the city grade contour, beginning to walk back the ownership limits, etc. The FCC is going to have to have the wherewithal to carry through.  In this day and age of political expediency, wherewithal seems to be in short supply.

So, we’ve at least acknowledged the problem, now back to the fiddling.

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1 comment to Michael Copps talks the talk

  • J. Aegerter

    I believe nearly everyone has identified the problems with news, public affairs, and the “mainstream media”, however, I believe government is actually the underlying problem. If you look at the Internet, there is “misinformation”, but there is also a wealth of true information. It just takes some reading by an interested party to separate the facts from the fiction. It is amazing how many viewpoints can be heard, read, or seen in this totally ‘free-for-all’ information interchange. On the other hand, the network news media for years was always headquartered in New York City or Washington, DC, and the news disseminated at times could be considered as pablum for the usual 6th Grade mentality of the public at large. The local stations usually local in ownership took the truth seriously and performed as public trustees at their best with local news. That is all gone do to government regulations that seem to change almost hourly. As for Mr. Copps, someone should remind him that it was his party’s President who signed the Telecom Act of 1996 that may have been good legislation for Common Carriers and wireless telecommunications, however a disaster to domestic broadcasting as we know it.

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