From: "Jerome R. Cronk" <email@example.com>
Date: 7/19/98 4:09pm
Subject: Public Comment
To: Committee on Pubic Interest In Broadcasting:
You are doing a most important work. Keep it up.
I wholeheartedly support your recommendations that PBS stations get to keep
their second 6MHz spectrum past the cutoff date, and that these public
broadcasters hook up with public libraries and public schools in a
cooperative community effort to make education widely available. I also
support the idea that there be more local community control.
A vital public broadcasting system, that affords opportunities for
consideration and thorough, open debate of a wide variety of political,
social, economic and other public interest issues is essential to the
preservation and advancement of our democratic society. The airways belong
to the public and a significant part of the spectrum, both in the hands of
private and public broadcasters, should be devoted exclusively to the public
interest. That means especially that there be an opportunity for a full
airing of issues of public interest in a fair, balanced format that allows
for a thorough exploring of the factual, moral and public policy issues.
The unanswered inundation of the airways with paid advertising in opposition
to health care reform proposals and tobacco legislation is an abomination of
the democratic process. The public deserves a full and fair airing of such
issues, not a one-sided deluge of slogans and misleading sound bites.
Democracy can only function if freedom of speech really means something. It
means nothing if people only hear one side of an issue. There is no free
market of ideas if only certain ideas are available in the marketplace.
There is no free market when some ideas drown out others through their
universal, unilateral dissemination and shear repetition.
This means that public broadcasting - both the portion available on
commercial outlets and that belonging to the dedicated public channels - is
the only option available to right that imbalance. And that means that you
must include in your recommendations that public and private broadcasters be
required to offer significant free air time to open debate of public issues
and to all credible candidates for public office. (By the way, I would
define "credible candidates" as those demonstrating some minimal measure of
public support, as for example, gaining 7% or 8% of the vote in a prior
Jerome R. Cronk