From: juli chamberlin <>

To: NTIADC40.NTIAHQ40(piac)

Date: 12/4/97 12:43am

Subject: Public comment

I write to urge you to require digital broadcasters to provide

substantial free TV time to candidates for public office.

One reason 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 the public owns 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 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.


Juli Chamberlin