Copps Backs Minority Owners

2/15/2009 5:00 AM Eastern

Washington— Acting Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Copps told reporters last week it was time to do something about boosting minority ownership in broadcasting, saying he had already put in motion the process to provide legal justification and factual underpinnings for doing so.

While he said the FCC remains focused on the digital transition, he also said that doesn't mean it would ignore important items. “We are still operating under the instruction [from Cognress] to put our overwhelming focus on DTV,” he said on Feb. 10 during a media briefing. “But that being said, I think there is a lot the commission can accomplish in the weeks and months ahead.”

“One of the big things I have been interested in is minority ownership of broadcast properties,” Copps said. “The time to start moving on that is right now. But we have to make sure that as we go forward with new policies we have the legal underpinnings that we need to satisfy the courts and the factual documentation we need to verify our case and if we have to do additional studies, this is the time to do it. I am putting that into motion.”

He said he is teeing it up so that “when the new group gets here … they won't have to start from scratch.” That new group is still expected to be headed by his presumptive permanent replacement, President Barack Obama's tech policy adviser Julius Genachowski.

The White House Web site notes “encourag[ing] diversity in the ownership of broadcast media” is one of Obama's policy priorities.

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