FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly owned-up to his Hill staffer past as a conservative Republican advocating for cutting funding to noncommercial media, but still found some encouraging words for America’s Public Television Stations’ 2020 Public Media Summit in Washington Tuesday (Feb. 25).
"Don’t anyone get too scared or worry that you are in for a discussion on reining in federal funding levels," he said to open his speech to the assembled noncom throng. "That certainly was part of my past career, but the FCC doesn’t have any role in that matter, and I leave it to those with proper authority to sort that out."
With that admission out of the way, O'Rielly found a way to praise the Caesar he was not there to bury, doing so by quoting another supporter whose praise he said it was "impossible not to be reminded of"--former General Stanley McChrystal, who argues noncom media make the country smarter, stronger and safer, providing kids with social skills fundamental to success. O'Rielly didn't actually second that, but added the observation, which he did not directly associate himself with, that public broadcasting "offers programming that many people actually like and appreciate."
O'Reilly spent most of his time talking up a public media future he said was "fairly bright."
As one piece of evidence he cited the ATSC 3.0 transmission technology that noncoms are embracing that that could help them be a player in content delivery up against "between large, unregulated high-tech companies."
"Along with the commercial stations, your ability to compete with over-the-top (OTT) providers depends on your ability to keep your viewers tuned in to your programming, and this could include improved accessibility options or enhanced interactive services, both of which the 3.0 standard will help to bolster."
Other things contributing to that fairly bright future were 1) "you are as local as you can possibly be"; and 2) "you produce and generate tons and tons of high-quality programming," he said, arguably his most unalloyed praise for crowd.
It was O'Rielly's first appearance at the Congress, which traditionally coincides with his annual trip to the Mobile World Congress. That trip was cancelled this year due to concerns about the Coronavirus.
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