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FCC's democrats say public interest rules are past due

Noting that it has been nearly seven years since the launch of a proceeding on public interest requirements for digital broadcasters, the FCC’s two Democratic members have called on the Republican majority for action on the issue.

“Our signals are crossed when it comes to what broadcasters must do to discharge their public-interest duties in this new digital age,” said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps at the FCC’s monthly public meeting.

Copps, joined by his Democratic colleague Jonathan Adelstein, complained that the commission has failed to provide clear public service obligations to TV broadcasters and their viewers.

The digital transition, Copps said, could enhance political discourse, aid citizens with disabilities and generate more locally originated content and foster diverse viewpoints and ownership. Without FCC action on the issue, Copps said, “I really do believe that the digital transition will fall far, far short of its potential.”

Adelstein called for rapid completion of the rules so that they'll be in place before the turnoff of analog broadcasting in February 2009.