Candidate Camera

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission wants to explore ways to require broadcasters to give free air time to political candidates:

1. To no one's surprise, broadcasters are vehemently opposed.

2. Only slightly less surprising: many senators beholden to, or fearful of crossing, TV and radio owners want to prevent the FCC from ordering up such free air time.

Therefore ...

3. An amendment currently before the Senate Appropriations Committee that would prohibit the FCC from mandating free campaign time is likely to pass.

Perplexingly ...

4. Fearless Sen. John McCain, who has long sought to curb the corrupting influence of big campaign contributions (and the TV dominance they buy) favors tying the FCC's hands.


Because he reportedly believes such an important step as mandating free air time should be taken by Congress - not by appointed regulators.

Many of our colleagues in the print press disagree. They argue that congressional incumbents are not likely to give away free and equal TV visibility to their challengers.

Good point. But neither will broadcasters let an FCC-mandated free time system escape a no-holds-barred legal challenge. So we're inclined to believe Senator McCain's approach is both right and doable. Equal, limited free campaign air time for qualified candidates should become the law. Congress makes the laws. It's up to you to let Congress know if you agree.

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