Date: 5/28/98 3:39pm
Subject: public comment
FROM: James D. Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
TO: KAREN EDWARDS <email@example.com>
DATE: MAY 28, 1998; 12:40 P.M.
SUBJECT: PUBLIC COMMENT
I support the MAP proposal. It is a much more responsible plan than the
Belo Proposal, and I feel broadcasting needs accountability.
The public interest would best be defined as providing broadcasting that
is specially designed to meet the informational needs of the public, the
educational needs of the public, and the social needs of the public (i.e.
political interest, political information and messages from political
candidates, community interest, ethnic interest, medical or health
interest, and the needs of the disabled).
To gain a clearer perception of how the public interest needs could best
be met, digital broadcasting should be divided into three categories:
Cable television and radio that is currently paid for, free television and
radio broadcasting that can be received over the air, and the internet.
All three of these categories would be further subdivided into commercial
and non-commercial broadcasting groups.
All commercial television and radio networks could be de-regulated by the
government, concerning their requirement to broadcast programming that is
in the public interest. If Congress decided to impose a tax or to regulate
these commercial networks through licensing renewal or in some other way,
it would be free to do so.
I recommend that Congress and the President fund the non-commercial or
public interest broadcasting group in some way, so that broadcasting in the
public interest will be high in quality and content, and more available.
An excellent plan for this is in the MAP proposal, concerning a "pay or
play" option. The broadcasters of today may prefer to "pay out" of
providing the public with broadcasting that meets the public's interests.
If so, broadcasters would be free to pay their way out of providing
broadcasting that is in the public interest, and they would not be burdened
by unnecessary government regulations. Broadcasters could pay a variable
percentage of their gross annual revenues, with the amount to be decided on
every three years by the government, if they wanted to "pay out" of their
public interest requirement.
However, the government, through its regulatory agency, the FCC, could and
should continue to oversee broadcasting in the United States. Matters such
as obscenity and indecency need to be regulated by the government.
Therefore, discussions such as de-regulation of broadcasting should be
carefully narrowed to mean only de-regulation as per broadcasting that is
in the public interest, with a "pay or play option." The public airwaves
are a valuable national resource, and broadcasters operate out of a public
The government should be advised that the country needs better regulation
of broadcasting, not less regulation. Government should participate
actively in broadcasting, and become an advocate of the public.
For example, cable broadcasting could be re-organized and a free cable
network could be provided that would fulfill a major portion of the
public's need for educational and informational broadcasting. This cable
network system could provide educational programming that could substitute
for classroom lectures in many subjects. Thus, a major portion of the
educational needs (for all Americans, adult and children) could be met by
providing 20 to 30 educational channels in each broadcasting area or region
of the U. S. Additionally, this free public broadcasting cable network
could also provide channels for stations that would broadcast only weather,
news, legal, political, ethnic, religious, business, community interest,
medical, health, or disabled programming, or some combination of these
types of public interest programming, or some other type of non-commercial
programming. There could also be stations or channels that only broadcast
public interest programming in a national format, while others broadcast
only state or community level programming. In any event, there could be 40
or more channels on this free, public interest cable network. And, it
could be funded through a "pay or play" option.
Additionally, the Internet should be carefully regulated and organized by
the government, so that it may be used more constructively.
Because of the rapid growth of technology, I recommend that broadcasting
should be ably nurtured by an intelligent, active government, much like a
growing child is actively and intelligently nurtured by his or her parents.
And, if the broadcasters wish to bring America into the digital age, I
recommend de-regulation go no further than de-regulation as it specifically
concerns the issue of the public interest requirement.