The Commission is worried about the future of the broadcast media, and they are trying to figure out what they can do. The last two weeks have been full of news about actions being taken by the FCC which may or may not lead to a reshaping of broadcasting as we know it. We wrote about the discussion of re-purposing some or all of the television spectrum for wireless broadband users. We also told you about the workshops to be held this week as the first step in the Commission’s Quadrennial review of it multiple ownership rules – looking at whether to allow more media consolidation to help broadcasters compete in the new media landscape or, conversely, whether there should be a reexamination of the existing rules to make them more restrictive against big media. Last week, the Commission announced two more actions – the appointment of a Senior Advisor to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to study "the future of media in a changing technological landscape", and a workshop on "Capitalization Strategies for Small and Disadvantaged Businesses." What is the impact of all of these actions?
The appointment of the Senior Advisor, Steven Waldman, is perhaps the most interesting action. Mr. Waldman, the founder of the website Belief.net (recently sold to News Corp), is charged with determining how the FCC can assure that the media will serve the public interest in the 21st century, and that "all Americans receive the information, educational content, and news they seek." He is instructed to work with all Bureaus to determine how best to implement these ambitious goals. It is interesting that, while one might be inclined to look at this with the assumption that his charge is to look at broadcasting, the public notice announcing his appointment and his charge does not once use the word "broadcast" or "broadcasting." Instead, it talks almost exclusively about the new media and technology and the potential that they have for serving the public good.