The FCC announced an extension of the comment filing deadline in its proceeding looking at the Future of the Media (see our summary here). At the same time, the Steven Waldman, the Special Assistant to Chairman Genachowski, made a public appearance at the FCC’s open meeting last week to explain what is intended by this study – and from his comments and those of the Commissioners, this will be a wide-ranging investigation looking at how FCC and other government regulations can insure diversity in the media so that citizens and communities can "get the information that they need." In Commissioner Copps comments, this includes looking at what public interest obligations are appropriate for the new digital media. Comments in this proceeding, which were to be filed in March, are now to be submitted by May 7, 2010.
The appearance of Mr. Waldman (whose appointment we wrote about here) came at the very end of a long Commission open meeting where extensive discussions were held on reforming the FCC’s internal decision-making processes and about the broadband deployment report which has consumed the FCC for many months, and which will be delivered to Congress in the next few weeks. But, while short, the discussion with Mr. Waldman was interesting as he highlighted the plans for his task force. He opened his comments by initially noting how this was a time of great change in the media, where there is "incredible diversity" brought forth by the new technologies, but that there was also a "collapse" of traditional business models, which could bring about the end of "accountability journalism" (presumably journalism from reputable journalistic sources with some degree of accountability and reliability). Because of these perceived changes, according to the comments made at the meeting, this task force was established to determine what the government can do to make sure that communities get the information that they need.