NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Plan For Free Political Airtime Opposed

November 13, 1998

Critics are alarmed by a government panel's recommendation that commercial TV stations donate five minutes a day in the 30 days before an election for political discourse. The time could be used for candidate speeches, a debate or a journalist's report. The panel, called the Gore Commission, reportedly wanted mandatory airtime, but broadcasters on the panel blocked it. The final decision lies with the FCC, but opponents are afraid the FCC will yield to pressure and make the time mandatory. Critics list a number of reasons why this is a bad idea.

  • First, it's stealing -- private property should be used as the owner wishes, not the government.
  • Government, not the station, would have to decide what's proper political speech.
  • Government bureaucrats would have to decide who gets their airtime.
  • The two major parties would stack the deal in their favor.

Also distressing to opponents of the plan is that it's based on the notion that government owns the airwaves, while critics of the plan contend they're property no different from real estate. And the Gore Commission plan violates that notion of private property, and is a means for government to fix elections.

Source: Editorial, "Broadcasters Gored," Investor's Business Daily, November 13, 1998.


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