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Copps: Media Has 'Bad Case of Substance Abuse'

Saying there has recently been no oversight of the media, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps plans to tell a Columbia School of Journalism audience that American journalism was in "its hour of grave peril."

That is according to an interview with BBC World News America.

The interviewer described the statement as a "pretty serious condemnation."
"It's a pretty serious situation. I think the American media has a bad case of substance abuse right now," Copps replied, giving new meaning to the term "news junkie."

"We are not producing the body of news and information Democracy needs to conduct its civil dialog," he said, adding that American media is not producing as much news as five or ten years ago. "We have to reverse that trend or I think we are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need."

In the speech, Copps calls for a "public value test" for the media, which the interviewer suggested raised the spectre of excessive government control of information. "One person's public value is not anothers," she said.

He said the value he was talking about was whether or not the media, he was talking specifically about broadcasters, were producing more news, or using more resouces or seeking input from their "community of license" about what kind of programming they want.

Copps has long argued for reviving the requirement that broadcaster actively ascertain community needs and program to those needs. Broadcasters have argued that programming to their audience is part of the DNA of their ad-supported business.

The FCC is currently conducting a review of the state of community media with an eye toward recommendations for strengthening it.