Copps: Media Should Cover FCC Reform

By: Mark Fitzgerald

As Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps barnstorms around the country holding unofficial public hearings in advance of a scheduled June 2 vote on proposals to eliminate the FCC cross-ownership ban and ease other media-ownership restrictions, he repeats the same message everywhere: News outlets have failed to inform the public about these important issues.

“The media have not done a very good job of teeing up this debate for the American people. … Whatever your side, someone’s got to tell them what’s up for grabs,” he said during a recent stop at the “Midwest Public Forum on Media Ownership,” held at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago.

He added: “I haven’t seen the first network news report on media ownership. It’s an important issue that affects what you see and hear and read — and they’re not reporting it.”

Copps repeatedly framed the issues in the June vote — which could kill the ban on common ownership of a newspaper and a broadcast property in the same market — as “dramatically altering the media landscape.”

More than seven of 10 Americans, 72%, say they have heard “nothing at all” about the FCC media-ownership debate, according to a late-February survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Only 4% of respondents said they had heard “a lot” about the debate.

“Three out of four people don’t know — that’s not acceptable,” Copps said. “My plea, for all people with the media, is to exercise your responsibilities and your rights in this debate.”

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