I heart FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who was quoted Wednesday in a Los Angeles Times blog post on the state of journalism in the USA. His take:
“American media is not ‘producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct its civic dialogue,’ Copps said in an interview with the BBC’s Katty Kay. That trend, he added, has to be reversed or ‘we are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country’.”
Copps spoke Thursday at Columbia University in New York, delivering an address entitled, “Getting Media Right: A Call to Action.” You can click HERE to get links to a live broadcast of the address, along with a link to the Katty Kay BBC interview and a related panel discussion. You can also follow coverage using the #cjcopps hashtag.
Copps said that the FCC shares the blame, enabling media consolidation to reduce public access to a diversity of opinions and straight reporting of issues that affect everyday Americans. Additionally, he calls for a more stringent licensing renewal process for local television stations:
Copps wants stations to commit to covering more debates and issues-oriented programming during election years. He also wants stations to be more in touch with the communities they serve.
A position that elicited this response from one reader of the LA Times blog:
Nice of Mr. Vicious to come back from the grave and offer his opinion, don’t you think?
But therein lies the rub. Whom should have the right to decide what’s in the public’s best interest? And how is it that the public’s airwaves are being used by for-profit enterprises to deliver those messages in the first place?
I understand that the media companies pay handsomely for the licenses that allow them to broadcast, but where does the proper balance between profit motive and public interest exist…and who decides?