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.


Continue Reading FCC Extends Time For Comments on the Future of the Media – Looking at the Public’s Interest in Quality Journalism in All Media

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.


Continue Reading FCC Senior Advisor to Chairman to Study Media Change and a Workshop on Media Financing for Small Business – Looking to Reinvent the Broadcast Industry?