FCC Commissioner Copps is Right. U.S. Needs Broad Debate on Media Policy: Past, Present & Future

Last Friday, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps was a guest on the Bill Moyers Journal public television program. Copps urged the country to have a serious discussion about the future of the U.S. communications system during this crucial period of transition from old to digital media. He is correct that we deserve to make what’s going on–and will likely occur–as conscious and participatory as possible. It’s not a mystery that the corrupt politics of media policy-making and greed have left our journalistic and entertainment institutions largely bereft of public service, deprived us of vibrant journalism, and has prevented diversity of ownership control by both people of color and women. It’s not a secret to see the broadband world we are headed towards, unless we create a national movement focused on creating democratic structures for broadband communications (both policy and market-based).

That’s why the plea by Commissioner Copps should serve as a call-to-action for advocates and others concerned about the future of our media system (hello, J-School Deans and foundations, for example). It’s time to discuss the very rapildy emerging future, as we close the door on the 20th Century struggles that have exemplified broadcast and media ownership policy. Let’s tackle how the “public interest, convenience, and necessity” should be defined in this part of the 21st Century. Before it is entirely decided by the same powerful forces which determined the fate of radio, broadcast T.V. and cable.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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