From: "Anne Kirkham" <email@example.com>
Date: 12/1/97 2:16pm
Subject: Candidates and TV advertising
I write to urge you to require digital broadcasters to provide substantial
free TV time to candidates for public office.
One reason big money has so much influence in American politics is the need
for candidates to pay for expensive TV time to get their message out. But
we, the people, own the airwaves! While the broadcasters use our commonly
owned resource to make profits of hundreds of millions of dollars, they
should have an obligation to reduce the role of big money in politics, by
providing free TV time to qualified candidates. This will lead to a more
representative democracy, where ideas rather than dollars have the most
The threshhold to qualify for free time should be reasonable, and low
enough to allow third party and independent candidates to have access as
well. Free TV could be linked to spending limits, to reduce the ability of
rich candidates to buy public office. Additionally, free TV could require
candidates to appear in their own ads, and to speak for longer than a
typical thirty second ad, to raise the level of debate in our politics and
engage a citizenry now largely "tuned out" by negative political advertising.
While the broadcasters may argue that such an obligation impinges on their
profits, such profits are only possible because of their use of a publicly
owned and limited resource. Does anyone think there will be a lack of new
applications for digital broadcasting licenses, simply because the licenses
come along with a requirement for substantial free TV for candidates? Not
very likely, in my view.
I urge the Committee to support such a requirement, and look forward to
hearing your response.