From: Miriam Dyak <email@example.com>
Date: 11/27/97 2:30am
Subject: Public access to political advertising
I write to urge you to require digital broadcasters to provide substantial
free TV time to candidates for public office. I am very concerned that
political life in America has deteriorated so drastically with only a small
fraction of the registered voters participating in any election. I'm sure
that part of the reason is the lack of debate and the forgone conclusion
that only the rich can afford to buy themselves into office through
expensive advertising. Theoretically the public owns the airwaves, but
broadcasters simply profit from selling advertising to political candidates
and the result is an advertising contest rather than a political campaign.
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.
Sincerely, Miriam Dyak
9817- 51st Avenue SW
Seattle, WA 98136