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Copps Speaks Up for Public Broadcasting

Commissioner commends NPR for commitment to international bureaus, also laments lack of media reform since Obama came into office

Michael Copps says it is “unfathomable” that some legislators want to eliminate public broadcasting funding.

“Some in Washington are trying to gut the very limited funding we currently provide for this precious news, information and education resource,” the FCC commissioner said in remarks at the Walter Cronkite Awards luncheon held by the USC Annenberg School of Communication in Los Angeles Tuesday.

“Other democracies leave us in the dust by investing meaningful resources in public broadcasting while the issue here is lining it out of the budget,” he said, according to an FCC transcript.

Copps identified the PBS program “NewsHour” as one example. “And who could question the great work that NPR’s reporters do on a daily basis to inform us about goings-on in our own backyards and events around the world? I particularly salute NPR for its commitment to operating bureaus worldwide while others have packed up and gone home. These last weeks prove once again how important an international perspective is for making sense of the world we all inhabit.”

Copps again lamented what he sees as the condition of journalism in general: “The praise-worthy reporting that we honor today becomes harder to find because there is less of it. Across our country’s media landscape, accountability journalism is — let’s be blunt — struggling to survive. … How many stories go untold because there is no reporter on the beat? How many facts are never dug up? How many wrongdoers are not held accountable because investigative journalism is on the endangered species list in so many places? How do we hold the powerful accountable when 27 states don’t have an accredited reporter on Capitol Hill?”

In his remarks, Copps, a Democrat, also sounded discouraged about hopes for media reform even after Barack Obama’s election, though the commission didn’t use the president’s name:

“That new era finally came and a window opened, and many of us thought real media reform was just around the corner. Alas, it’s been 27 months now — and we’re still waiting. Still waiting for media reform — or even a down-payment on media reform.” He wants to see changes to the licensing and license renewal system and to rules regarding disclosure of the funding of political ads, among other things.