From: "Jerome R. Cronk" <>

To: NTIADC40.NTIAHQ40(piac)

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

election. )

Jerome R. Cronk

Shoreline, WA