FCC's Copps Considers Shorter Broadcast License Terms

May 19, 2009

Washington - May 14, 2009 - During comments made at the Free Press Summit on May 14, FCC Acting Chairman Michael Copps discussed his interest in ensuring that broadcast stations serve the public interest, and specifically to shortening the broadcast station license renewal term from the current eight years to three years.

Copps has beat the public interest drum since being appointed to the commission in 2001. His focus in that time has included scrutiny of consolidation of ownership and indecency.

In his remarks, Copps talked about changes in media from new to old. From his speech:

If old media is going to be with us a while still, what implications does this have for us? It means we still need to get serious about defining broadcasters' public interest obligations and reinvigorating our license renewal process. Since we still need broadcasters to contribute to the democratic dialogue, we need clear standards that can be fairly but vigorously enforced. It is time to say good-bye to postcard renewal every eight years and hello to license renewals every three years with some public interest teeth.
I understand that many thoughtful people are ready to give up on the public interest. They would rather just impose a spectrum fee on broadcasters and be done with it. I'm not ready to throw in the towel. The public interest standard is like a grand old theater that has been badly neglected over the years. The structure is sound, and with a little imagination and a lot of hard work we can make it a showplace once again.

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