On a West Coast swing this past week, Democratic Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps heard directly from one group that shares his pessimism about media consolidation, according to agency records.
On Nov. 24, Copps and an aide met with Len Hill from the legislative committee of the Caucus of Television Producers, Writers and Directors, who asserted that "the current environment is making it almost impossible for independent producers to survive" due to an FCC rule change several years ago that allowed networks to own primetime programming.
Hill told Copps the window for independent producers was closing because, for example, 80 percent of "pilots brought by ABC were produced by [The Walt] Disney [Co.], the parent company of ABC."
Copps has issued warnings against loosening FCC ownership rules that limit the size of TV networks, cable companies and local broadcast outlets. He is planning to stage his own public hearings on the subject early next year, with or without support from Republicans who control the FCC.
In his meeting with Copps, Hill also relayed "anecdotal stories" that program buyers have demanded the copyrights to programming and the right to shop acquired programs at less than fair market value, both of which can reduce the economic return to the program creator.