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Copps Pushes Rule Rewrite

Democratic Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps Wednesday said the FCC should quickly get its rewrite of broadcast-ownership rules under way, even though a new lineup of commissioners could be in place by the time new rules are ready for approval.

"It's time to really get serious around this place," he told reporters during a press briefing. He took several verbal swipes at FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who pushed a largely deregulatory rewrite through the commission last spring.

After a federal appeals court remanded most of the rule change back to the FCC for another rewrite, Powell lamented that last week's court decision might have made it impossible for the FCC to set any ownership limits. But Copps argued that another try, including one that leads to more restrictive rules is "eminently doable."

He urged reporters "not to fall for arguments like, 'Oh, woe is me it's impossible to adopt any new rules because the situation has been so clouded by the courts." Copps called for the first in a series of hearings on media consolidation to be held outside Washington within 30 days.

"We need to reverse course and do something positive to protect the people's interest. People continue to see the harmful effects of media consolidation."