In its December 2 Public Notice requesting comment on the uses of spectrum, the FCC asked:
“Broadcasting and the Public Interest: Broadcasters have historically played an important role in advancing public interests through free over-the-air broadcast TV. What are the benefits of free, over-the-air television broadcasting, in particular with respect to public awareness of emergency information, local news, political discourse, and education?”
These are good questions at a time when the media landscape is changing dramatically. Some innovations -- from both traditional media companies and new players -- are not only just as good as the status quo, they’re considerable improvements, and universal broadband will clearly help facilitate further innovation. In some ways, this is a very exciting time in the evolution of media as we are seeing new delivery systems and types of content come on-line almost every day.
At the same time, we must recognize that the business model challenges now faced by the traditional media may diminish its ability to provide one its most critical functions: full time, local, professional journalism. This function is crucially important for democracy. It enables citizens to hold leaders accountable and get the information they need. Chairman Genachowski brought me to the Commission to spearhead a broad-ranging effort to look at these issues through a recently launched project on the future of the media in a digital age.
We are charged with looking at these questions, and all relevant Commission proceedings, through this lens: what policies are most likely to insure that communities get the information and news they need? We need to ask what current trends tell us about the likely direction of news and information gathering and dissemination, and what are the implications of these trends for broadband and spectrum policy? What role can/should/will all holders of spectrum – including wireless companies and commercial and public broadcasters – play in helping keep America’s citizens informed?
We hope a full range of players will weigh in on these questions in comments in response to the Public Notice
, which are due by December 21. Or you can comment on this blog.