05.05.2003 12:00 PM
FCC’s Copps blasts TV networks for “noncoverage” of ownership debate

Democratic FCC commissioner Michael Copps has harshly criticized the major television networks for failing to cover the media ownership debate — a story whose outcome affects their financial interests.

Copps said the issue has yet to receive the network coverage it deserves. “Thus far, their refusal to cover this issue has just been dreadful,” Copps said at a seminar on media ownership at the University of Southern California. “It is in their public interest obligation to do so.“

Copps also took aim at FCC chairman Powell, who he charged — with the vote less than a month away — has refused to provide the public or even his own office with advance notice of the precise changes in ownership rules that the FCC will consider.

“We don’t know what we will be voting on,” Copps said. “We don’t have the details, or even the broad configuration, of what the new system will be.”

Copps also noted that public interest obligations for digital broadcasters are missing from the debate. “Before the genie is out of the bottle, we’d better understand the consequences, because there’s no putting the genie back after we vote,” he said.

Finally, Copps endorsed a proposal from Hollywood’s creative community that would require the television networks to reserve 25 percent of their primetime schedules for independently produced programs.

For more information visit www.fcc.gov.

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