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Copps Cheered in Nashville

Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps was in his element Monday, getting a Nashville reception that Hank Williams would have been proud of.

His opening remarks at the FCC's second regional media ownership hearing, being held in Nashville, were interrupted time and again by applause and cheers as he pounded on the FCC's remanded ownership rules--"hammered through" under cover of night against his objections--and said that the FCC had to listen to people this time around and put localism at the head of its agenda.

Among Copps' biggest hits:

saying the FCC must take enforcement action against payola whenever it uncovers it (applause); saying that after the FCC tried to pass deregulatory rules in 2003, the citizens, court and Congress had risen up to say, 'no way' (applause); hold broadcasters to the bargain of serving up public interest for using nation's airwaves (applause); news is not just another business (applause); criticizing homogenized playlists (loud and long applause); and finally, that the people don't have enough say about how their airwaves are being used and that it's time to do something about it (thunderous, extended applause, hoots and hollers).

Copps, a self-described big country music fan, had said that he had brought his autograph book along as well as a pad for taking notes--witnesses included George Jones, Naomi Judd and Porter Wagoner.

After Copps' reception, Martin quipped: "I think he is going to get requests for autographs when he's done." Naomi Judd went further, saying she owed Copps a chicken and dumpling dinner.

Judd when she spoke criticized sex and violence on TV and said she wished she had been around for the last prayer in schools in 1963.

No mention was made in the opening statements of the the absence of Commissioner Robert McDowell, who stayed back in Washington. He has a big decision to make: Whether to vote on the AT&T/Bell South merger now that he has been given the go-ahead by the FCC's General Counsel.