Copps Urges Transparency at First FCC Meeting as Chairman

Jan 26, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Acting Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Copps struck a note of openness in remarks to the FCC staff today.
At his first FCC staff meeting, Mr. Copps said the staff should start communicating more with each other, stop running requests from other FCC commissioners through the FCC chairman before filling them and answer to the public and not just corporate interests.
He said the actions will “make the FCC more transparent, open and useful to the stakeholders that we serve. And when I say stakeholders, I include not just the industries that we regulate but, more importantly, all citizens—and here let me once again underline the word ‘all.’
“Regardless of whether a person is rich or poor, lives in a rural or urban area or on tribal lands …the spectrum is theirs and the rest of us are stewards. No matter who it is, every citizen in this great land has a right to expect that we will keep them in the forefront of our attention and concern.”
Mr. Copps said that in the weeks ahead, the FCC’s priority will be “DTV, DTV and DTV.”
Mr. Copps said “much remains to be done,” including “explaining the how-to of converter boxes, antennas and peculiarities of digital signal coverage.”
Mr. Copps said he already is moving to improve coordination of the commission’s DTV efforts and deploy new resources.
He said he is hopeful the transition will be delayed.
“It is no secret that I have always favored a more proactive and coordinated public-private partnership,” he said. “It’s too late for that seamlessness now, but we have an obligation to do what we can to minimize the dislocation and then, in the weeks following, to repair the things that didn’t work.
“Should Congress extend the transition date, that will afford some additional and badly needed time,” he said.
Mr. Copps also said FCC employees should answer commissioners’ requests without awaiting the chairman’s OK, a reference to problems he and other commissioners had under Mr. Martin.
“I realize this is not a bureau-created problem but, beginning now, requests from commissioners’ offices—not just the chairman’s office—should be answered directly and as quickly as possibly, just as if the chairman’s office is asking for it and without the need for running those requests through the chairman’s office first,” said Mr. Copps.


  1. During discussion on new rules for leased access November, 2007, the Commission adopted a new rule setting a 90 day limit on the time the Media Bureau takes to release their decision on petitions for relief. When the court stayed the new rules, the career-level staff of the bureau decided the new rule didn’t apply and so returned to the policy of releasing their orders in the petitions when the D__n well please. Commissioner Adelstein had made a point of how some orders lingered not months, but a couple of years. These orders often set the precedent for how leased access users are permitted to avail themselves of the right to airtime as established by Congress.
    Hopefully Chairman Copps can now convince those in the bureau that seem to be more interested in helping cable operators thwart use of leased access change their wayward positions and finally begin being neutral administrators. Or at least get them to release the order they told Sen. Wicker last august they had completed their findings and were drafting the report. The new rule called for this to be done in 90 days from the end of the complaint process. This petition has now been held up by the career-level bureau staff for some six months beyond the 90 days.

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