Advice from Commissioner Copps – Get Organized to Effect Change

This week I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a small meeting with FCC Commissioner Copps. The meeting was hosted by the Center for Media Justice and the Main Street Project. (I want to especially thank amalia deloney for the invitation.)

It was a nice complement to the public hearing session hosted by the same groups last year. Last year Commissioner Copps and Commissioner Clyburn listened for *hours* as folks share their news, views and stories. It was an amazing turnout!

This meeting was a much smaller group and the topics were narrower in scope but included diversity in media ownership and representation, Low Powered FM Radio and policies to promote greater use of technology (broadband, telephone, radio) such as Net Neutrality and Universal Service Funds.

Commissioner Copps was generous to allow me to record the session. I didn’t catch the intros, because I wasn’t sure that everyone wanted to be archived – but I think his comments drew upon the remarks from the folks in the room.

I also took some very quick notes on the comments that just stuck out for me. So for a very high-level Reader’s Digest version I will include those notes below. Commissioner Copps will be done with his tenure at the FCC at the end of the year. I got the feeling that he was imparting some good advice on his way out to help community leaders work with the FCC in the future – and maybe to push the FCC to work harder. His key tip – Get Organized to Effect Change!


On Broadcasting & Access to Info

27 states don’t have local reporters in DC

Good journalism came from a time when journalists and owners remembered that there was an FCC that could penalize them for not doing good job.

Civic dialog can’t blossom without access to information.

Net Neutrality prevents the “cable-ization” of the Internet. We set guidelines. Now broadcasters don’t need to apply as often and the renewal is assumed – because generally renewal is a forgone conclusion.


We recognize that we need a strategy and a plan to get broadband to rural areas. Everybody has to have access to broadband.

The USF is broken. And is costing consumers millions. The subscriber line fees might go up – but Copps won’t vote unless I know that the burden on the consumers will be reduced.

Universal access is the infrastructure challenge of the 21st century. We need to get it right.

Lifelink and Linkup will get attention in a month or so.

We found ways to build infrastructure in the past – with public/private sector collaboration. But then there was an idea (starting with Regan) that public-private collaboration was un-American.

Auction selling spectrum – one worry is the constriction of spectrum.

These problems get solved from the bottom up.

Three important steps to take:

  • Access to Anchor Institutions
  • Media/Digital/News Literacy
  • Public Media & Support for Public Media
This entry was posted in Conferences, Digital Divide, FCC, MN, Policy, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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