YearlyKos Panel: The Future of the Media

From ‘malcontent’ in Chicago…

Panel: The Future of the Media
(co-hosted by and

Michael Copps (D) FCC Commissioner since 2001 // Craig Aaron (, moderator // Matt Stoller (OpenLeft) // Art Broadsky (Public Knowledge (Washington DC) & Talking Points Memo)


Commissioner Copps is one of the sole dissenting voices in the FCC, who is fighting against the Chairman Michael Powell’s policies at the FCC. He recently spoke out against the recent effort by the News Corp. (Murdoch) effort to purchase the parent of the Wall St. Journal. Robert McChesney, a co-founder of, says Commissioner Copps is the most progressive member of the FCC.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps’ remarks:

The FCC is playing Russian Roulette with the future of broadband and all of the media. The newspaper industry is the going around crying “the sky is falling,” which is a veiled cry for more media consolidation. If all of us really care about an open internet, we must also care about open communication [across] all of the media.

Commissioner Copps came to the YearlyKos Convention to ask for our help to fight for the [winnable] battle to save media. The FCC recently re-designated the broadband internet as Title 1 communications/information ( instead of Title 2). Consumer protections no longer apply. An FCC committee recently decided to only uphold half of the protections, which were originally reserved for broadband internet technology. Those Commissioners and staffers have opened the door to an internet filled with toll booths and various traffic management mechanisms.

Copps’ understanding of American history tells him that if someone has the technology and a business interest to do so…they will. We have to find a way to get the public and industry to work together. He hearkened back to the effort to build the transcontinental railroad. That is the way to grow industry in a healthy manner. All this business about deregulation is complete nonsense.

The OECD recently rank the USA at 15th in broadband penetration, down from 12th. (This is preposterous.) We should study the successful policies of the14 countries which are ahead of us. Generally, all of them have a national broadband strategy. The USA does not!! There must be some over-arching strategy, in order for us to establish a framework to build this out for everyone, in all communities.

The FCC is currently looking at “ownership” of media. Under Powell, the Commission passed radically new rules in the area of media consolidation. Copps refers to “net neutrality” as “internet freedom.” The internet is headed down the same road as the traditional media. There is an attempt to fuse content with conduit. This threatens the quality of information we are offered across all of our media.

In the last couple of days, Copps smells “something fishy” at the Commission. There are more and more hearings and an increase in attention paid to this in their office. He fears this is an effort to push media consolidation, sooner instead of later. There is likely a very short window for public comment on this issue. His advice is to be prepared. We have to be prepared to fight like our future depends on it, because it does.

The way to win is to take this story, not just to capital Hill, but all across America. Talk about it, write about it, blog about it.”

Copps closed with, “[if] we fight this battle well, we will be able to celebrate media of, by and for the people.” And don’t forget that there is a “Future of the Media” hearing” in Chicago on September 20, 2007. There are only going to be a couple more other these across the country, before the Commission will vote on this issue. Anyone who can

Panel Discussion:

(Q: Rupert Murdoch and ownership consolidation) Copps mentioned that some are arguing that the FCC should not involve itself in “regulation” of this open industry. This is both national and a local issue, since it affects the ownership of newpapers in New York. Nationally, the implications are obvious. The FCC has to get a handle on what its legal authority is in this area. If we only relied on precedent, we would still have “separate but equal” policy in place.

(Q: the 700mHz spectrum) This is the beach-front property of the public spectrum, which will be abandoned by the big broadcasters, as they move to digital format(s).
On February 18th, 2009, the FCC will auction this off. He addressed that in addition to the market implications, the FCC also needs to address the public safety needs of the nation. The FCC has proposed to repurpose They did not open up any of it for “open access,” which is what many of the other countries who are ahead of us have done to build their spectrum outreach.

(Q: impact of public outreach) “Citizen action works, it can make an impact.” There are more than 3 million who are likely to chime in this time around. These people need to be mobilized. There’s lots of lobbying power on the other side, but if we get the word out, and we can find creative ways, we can make a difference.

Craig Aaron: we can boil down the  FCC Chairman Michael Powell

(Q: how can the FCC reverse the affects of Chairman Powell) Copps: there’s a surprising amount of latitude that the Commission has to reverse the affects of the Powell era. Some of the rest of this will require a true, comprehensive national policy.

(Q: how is the public interest served by violent rhetoric / KSFO: Brian Sussman, et al.) Copps: there needs to be some legislative change to allow the FCC to weigh in here. “Hate crime” language language is another story. You’ve identified a real problem.

(Q: media democracy / women and diversity in ownership) Copps: this essential to the media debate. People of color own 4.6%, women 5%, while they make up roughly 35% and 51% of the population, respectively. Media is not a problem to be overcome, it is an opportunity. The current condition of ownership diversity is a national shame.

(Q: isn’t this a non-partisan issue?) The (Powell-run) FCC is proposing to change the rules of the game. Folks on both sides of the political aisle are talking about solutions, so we shouldn’t presume there can be no rational debate among citizens on this issue.

(Q: media consolidation, as compared to the days of the “robber barons”) there is anti-trust regulation which address this, but the FCC has a different authority

Craig Aaron: mentioned a book about “How to Talk Back to your Television Set,” which is about

(Q: how do we get a more progressive FCC?) Craig Aaron reminded us that the FCC Chairman and Commissioners are all appointed by the President.

(Q: what can we do online) Matt Stoller also indicated that “net neutrality” is a nonpartisan issue. Senator Durbin (D) promised to write one of his future bills completely online. Durbin went on Red State (yikes) to engage that community on how to treat them. Remarkably, the conversation was quite open and civilized.

(Q: should we just concentrate on new media) “No! These two areas are not mutually exclusive.” These misgiuded policies can be reversed.

(Q: how do we break up these (real or virtual) monopolies) There is some hope for the cynics in an unlikely ally in the device makers (Motorola, Nokia, etcetera). They realize they are currently relying on customers, such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint etcetera. These cell phone manufacturers are chicken, and we need to turn up the pressure on them. We should work with them to give them a backbone transplant, because they should be working with us to put pressure on the various networks.

(Q: who sets the FCC policy) Stoller: We do! Why don’t we hear more about this from the Democratic Presidential candidates?! They need to address this issue publicly and clearly. We have the opportunity to steer the debate on this by pressuring the candidates to answer our questions in this area. They have limited information presented to them by the advisors, so we have to advise them, directly.

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One Response to YearlyKos Panel: The Future of the Media

  1. A.Citizen says:

    Good , good stuff. Put this out on the php list. Will be ready to do so for all your posts. Keep up the good work!

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