Public Comment

From:      "Michael McPhail" <>
To:        NTIADC40.NTIAHQ40(piac)
Date:      12/1/97 8:30pm
Subject:   Free TV for candidates

Dear Sir or Madam:

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 serve the public by helping 
reduce the need for 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 influence.

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.


Michael McPhail

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