“Come on, Knight Adelstein, just one more hill. You can do it,” said Knight Copps. The two knights of the Federal Censorship Committee (FCC) were engaged in a battle against the sinister forces of Time Warner, Viacom, Comcast and other corporate dragons hiding in Media Forest.
Armed with regulations, government bureaucracy, rules and penalties, the two knights of the FCC round table had spent years battling filthy-rich broadcasters and the dreaded mega-moguls residing in the forest. Driven on by the priests of the American Church of Liberal Unity (ACLU), knights Adelstein and Copps were leading the holy war for diversity. Just up Potomac Hill lay victory.
One evening, the knights stopped at a small inn for a brew. Knight Copps seized the opportunity to spread his message to the village pilgrims. He leapt onto a table and said, “Attention, citizens! We must arm ourselves against the corporations. Big companies already control radio, television, newspapers and cable — cable systems and cable channels. They own the production of programming. They own its distribution.” Thrusting his sword into the air, he shouted, “Increasingly, they control creativity itself. Unite and follow me!”
The crowd remained silent.
Big companies controlling creativity? How could that be? Would not the TV peasants revolt? After all, if they don't get their rations of gruel and bread — “Fear Factor” and “American Idol” — they become insolent, irritable and ill-tempered.
A small hand arose from the inn's crowd. “Sir, why would big companies want to control creativity? After all, don't they make money from being creative?”
“Hush, you idiot!” roared Knight Copps. “I don't give a damn if they make money; first they must create diversity. Diversity for one; diversity for all.” No response came from the inn's customers.
Without blinking an eye, Knight Copps launched into his conclusion, “I worry that anything with the name ‘independent’ on it seems to be on the endangered species list. I worry about the toll this takes on media diversity. I worry about the effects on creativity across whole regions of this broad land. I see the effects wherever I go. News anchors and radio and TV journalists no longer needed as stations are consolidated. Those wicked station managers are focused on the bottom line when they should be focusing on diversity.”
Jumping to the floor, Knight Copps said, “Come on, Knight Adelstein. This industry will either be diverse or die if I have anything to say about it.”
Exiting the inn, Knight Copps mounted his trusty steed and turned the horse into the evening's chilled winds. “Forge on, trusty fellow,” he commanded.
“Hold up, Michael. I can't get my foot into the stirrup,” pleaded Knight Adelstein.
Rolling his eyes, Knight Copps replied, “Get with it, you idiot. Diversity needs us. We've an entire nation to save, corporations to slay and politics to play.
“Besides, I've only got two more years on this lousy government soapbox, and I still need to get that sweet lobbyist job lined up. Then, screw 'em all. It's money time!” laughed Knight Copps as he galloped off toward Potomac Hill.
Editor's note: Text in italics are quotes from FCC Commissioner Michael Copps' speech to NATPE 2005.