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Broadcast Ownership Regulation in a Border Era: An Analysis of how the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is Shaping the Debate on Broadcast Ownership Limits
Unformatted Document Text:  24 consumers. Perhaps, a more inclusive debate during the formulation of the 1996 Act would have revealed these kinds of concerns. Coincidentally, it is a more extended discussion that FCC Commissioner Copps and many other groups now seek in the aftermath of the 1996 Act, and before any more harm can be wrought by further deregulation. An overriding concern presented by FCC Commissioner Copps is that the FCC may rush to judgment in lifting ownership caps and do harm to the “public interest” that may never be undone. Suppose for a moment that the Commission decides to remove or significantly change current limits on media ownership – and suppose our decision turns out to be a mistake. How do we put the genie back in the bottle then? No way. (Concurring Statement of Michael J. Copps, 2002, p. 3) This calls to mind the border era for radio and television broadcasting, and the implications of the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its future. What if policymakers enter into this new epoch with the wrong set of assumptions? How do they trace an intellectual path back to the root of the problem? Copps clearly suggests that they cannot. This underscores the significance of how the FCC is shaping the discussion on broadcast ownership limits in its current proceedings. It may unleash an inexorable spirit that will haunt future articulations of the “public interest,” relegating it merely to a question of market efficiencies

Authors: Blevins, Jeffrey. and Brown, Duncan.
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consumers. Perhaps, a more inclusive debate during the formulation of the 1996 Act would have
revealed these kinds of concerns. Coincidentally, it is a more extended discussion that FCC
Commissioner Copps and many other groups now seek in the aftermath of the 1996 Act, and
before any more harm can be wrought by further deregulation. An overriding concern presented
by FCC Commissioner Copps is that the FCC may rush to judgment in lifting ownership caps
and do harm to the “public interest” that may never be undone.
Suppose for a moment that the Commission decides to remove or
significantly change current limits on media ownership – and
suppose our decision turns out to be a mistake. How do we put the
genie back in the bottle then? No way. (Concurring Statement of
Michael J. Copps
, 2002, p. 3)

This calls to mind the border era for radio and television broadcasting, and the implications of
the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its future. What if policymakers enter into this
new epoch with the wrong set of assumptions? How do they trace an intellectual path back to
the root of the problem? Copps clearly suggests that they cannot. This underscores the
significance of how the FCC is shaping the discussion on broadcast ownership limits in its
current proceedings. It may unleash an inexorable spirit that will haunt future articulations of the
“public interest,” relegating it merely to a question of market efficiencies


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