Copps Appears Ready to Push for Shorter License Terms

May 14, 2009
As if broadcasters needed another regulatory headache this week. ...

How long should broadcast license terms be? Michael Copps thinks three years rather than the current eight, and he said so again this week.

The National Association of Broadcasters heard the comment from the acting chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and was quick with its response.

“NAB would respectfully oppose attempts to shorten license renewal terms,” Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton stated, in what is probably an understatement.

“Congress wisely reformed license renewal terms to allow broadcasters to better compete against our pay platform competitors,” he continued. “Reducing a broadcaster’s term of license would actually harm localism by injecting greater uncertainty into a business model facing the worst advertising downturn in decades.”

Copps, a Democrat, made the comment at a summit sponsored by Free Press, according to Dow Jones Newswires, which quoted him saying, “We still need to get serious about defining our license renewal process. ... Goodbye to postcard renewal every eight years. Hello to renewal every three years with public interest teeth.”

But he also said the FCC shouldn’t pursue such a change while he’s acting chairman but wait for President Obama’s nominee Julius Genachowski to take office.

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