Acting Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Copps Thursday used yet another venue to try to make it clear that his call for media reform does extend to reimposing the fairness doctrine, which he called a "phony issue."
"The Fairness Doctrine is long gone and it's not coming back," he said in a speech to media reform group Free Press at the Newseum in Washington Thursday.
Copps was referring to criticism from the right of the FCC's diversity committee.
"A couple of weeks ago, when we finally got the FCC back on track to do something about the shameful state of minority and female ownership of media properties, some had the gall to suggest it was just a ruse to bring the Fairness Doctrine back," he said.
In a speech to that committee's first meeting last week, Copps called the fairness doctrine connection "issue mongering," a phrase he repeated Thursday.
In his Free Press speach, Copps called for more localism and diversity in broadcast programming and ownership, and for holding broadcasters to a more quantifiable public interest standard, saying that was necessary to "nurture the democratic dialog."
But he followed up that phrase with a long and pointed caveat. "When I say 'democratic dialogue,'" he told his audience, "it is not code for the 'Fairness Doctrine.' "
Copps said conspiracy theorists were "lurking behind every corner," but that they should not be allowed to derail efforts to boost minority and female ownership. "We will not lose this opportunity to make real and lasting progress on media reform because some find it is in their self-interest to keep this phony issue alive."