Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 10:24am
COPPS, A LIBERAL VOICE ON THE FCC, KNOWS HOW TO GET HIS MESSAGE OUT
[SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, AUTHOR: Jim Puzzanghera]
Everything about Michael J. Copps screams bureaucrat -- until he opens his mouth. Copps, a Democrat whose crusade against media consolidation has helped make him Hollywood's public-policy enemy No. 1, is more proselytizer than pencil pusher. The public airwaves, he says, are filled with "too much baloney passed off as news." The Republican-led FCC is so lax that "unless you're a child abuser or a wife beater, it's a slam-dunk" to renew a TV station license. "Our country is paying a dreadful cost for this quarter-century fling with government abdication and media irresponsibility," he said this year. Copps' ability to distill the complexities of media ownership into plain English and fire up crowds like a revivalist preacher helped derail an industry push in 2003 to loosen restrictions on owning broadcast stations. Now, as the FCC prepares to tackle the volatile issue again, with Chairman Kevin J. Martin proposing a vote on new rules by the end of the year, the 67-year-old former history professor is reemerging as a hero to the firebrands fighting media consolidation. In a city where officials speak in bland pronouncements, blurring their message with acronyms and jargon, Copps stands out like high-definition TV. "He's the first FCC commissioner-rock star," said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, a public policy law firm that has fought media consolidation. Combining his historian's skill of framing an issue with political acumen he learned on Capitol Hill, Copps is regarded by supporters and critics as perhaps the most effective FCC commissioner ever from the minority party. If a Democrat wins the White House next year, FCC observers said, Copps would be on the list of potential chairmen, although the 2005 retirement of his top political backer, former Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), lengthens the odds. At the least, Copps could serve as temporary head for several months until a new chairman is selected and confirmed. The prospect worries media executives.
* FCC’s Copps Stumps for Tougher License Review
Unless they abuse their wives or beat their children, "there's no chance [that broadcasters] are going to lose their license on public-interest grounds," Democratic FCC commissioner Michael Copps said, calling for tougher station-licensing requirements and public-interest standards.