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Copps: DTV obligations neglected

The government should spend more energy devising public-interest obligations
for digital broadcasters, Federal Communications Commission member Michael
Copps said Tuesday.

Debate over the digital-television rollout should not be limited to "industry
experts and technicalities," such as set-top boxes, antennas and tuner mandates,
Copps said.

Copps' digital-TV observations were part of the annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in
Telecommunications Lecture sponsored by the United Church of Christ.

Also on the agenda should be children's and public-affairs programming
obligations, he said, but these issues have been virtually off the table since a
government advisory panel issued recommendations in December 1998.

Copps also urged the public interest community to lobby the FCC aggressively
as the commission examines changes to media-ownership limits. "I don't think
it's exaggerating a bit to say that access to telecommunications is a basic
civil right," he added.

Cable News Network anchor Judy Woodruff received the "McGannon Award" for her efforts to
advance the role of minorities in the media. Woodruff co-chairs the
International Women's Media Foundation.

Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil
Rights, received the "Everett C. Parker Award" for promoting public-interest
values in telecommunications.