The business behind the show
April 5, 2013
Journalism is in hour of 'grave peril,' says top government regulatorFederal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps is taking aim at the state of television news, which he says is "in its hour of grave peril." In both an interview with BBC World News America that airs Wednesday and in a speech at Columbia University's School of Journalism he is to deliver Thursday, Copps charges that the media is falling far short when it comes to serving the public.
American media is not "producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct its civic dialogue," Copps said in an interview with the BBC's Katty Kay. That trend, he added, has to be reversed or "we are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country.”
But Copps, who has never been shy about criticizing big media, doesn't just point the finger at them. He says his own regulatory agency allowed much of it to happen through deregulation that cleared the way for a massive consolidation in the industry.
In his remarks to Columbia, which his office provided to the Los Angeles Times, Copps writes: "The place where I work — the Federal Communications Commission — blessed it all, encouraged the consolidation mania, and went beyond even that to eviscerate just about every public interest responsibility that generations of reformers had fought for and won in radio and TV."
Copps wants stations to commit to covering more debates and issues-oriented programming during election years. He also wants stations to be more in touch with the communities they serve.
Writes Copps: "Nowadays, when stations are so often owned by mega companies and absentee owners hundreds or even thousands of miles away — frequently by private equity firms totally unschooled in public interest media — we no longer ask licensees to take the public pulse. Diversity of programming suffers, minorities are ignored, and local self-expression becomes the exception."
-- Joe Flint
Photo: FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. Credit: FCC.
First published 2/22/11