Have you ever had a neighbor with one of those little yappy dogs? You know, the kind that bark all the time? They bark at nothing and everything. The wind blows, they bark. The wind doesn't blow, they still bark. Sun up to sun down, there's that little yappy dog barking his head off. The constant barking must come from a complex about being so insignificantly small.
Well, we have a yappy dog on the FCC: Commissioner Michael Copps.
Commissioner Michael Copps is prone to incessant tirades. And he's been a thorn in the side of broadcasters since his appointment to the commission by President Bush in May 2001.
In one of his many tirades, this time about what he perceives as inadequate news coverage of his party's convention, Copps criticized broadcasters — saying that they were “not fulfilling [their] role or pulling [their] weight.” He called upon broadcasters to “make a meaningful commitment to cover real issues.”
To quote your presidential candidate's wife, “Shove it.”
The political conventions are staged shows. There is no drama. There is no debate. There are no “candidates” anymore at these events. By the time the Republican and Democrat conventions take place, the winners are all known and most Americans don't want to watch. Don't take my word for it, check out the ratings. The ratings for this year's DNC hoopla were among the worst ever.
Copps, Jonathan Adelstein and their brethren always lament the perceived “media ownership” crisis in broadcasting. They never mention that 98 percent of American cities have only one major newspaper.
In 1975, the FCC adopted its biennial review of broadcast ownership rules. At that time, there were 1700 daily newspapers, 7500 radio stations and fewer than 1000 TV stations. Three national commercial broadcast networks had a combined prime-time audience share of 95 percent.
By 2001, the number of TV stations had increased to 1600 and radio stations to 12,000. Yet, the number of daily newspapers dropped by 12 percent to 1500. The number of broadcasters went up, the number of daily newspapers went down. Let's see….almost 14,000 broadcasters versus 1500 newspapers. Where do you see diversity?
You claim that Americans are not getting what they should from broadcasters and that stations should “step up to the plate and correct this deplorable mess.”
What deplorable mess, Mr. Copps?
The only “deplorable mess” is the chaos you've created for this industry by yapping long enough that Congress bent to your tantrums and reversed the FCC's proper actions. The inability to sell, buy and exchange properties has forced station owners to withdraw their checkbooks for new investment. Your actions have brought an industry rebound to a screeching halt.
Stop it, Mr. Copps. You're acting like a yappy dog that's been allowed to misbehave for too long. It's time someone jerked your chain, and I'm only too happy to do it.