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Citizen Groups Unveil Campaign to Hold Local Broadcasters Accountable

Citizen Groups Unveil Campaign to Hold Local Broadcasters Accountable

The managing director of a church communications advocacy group has unveiled a nationwide campaign to hold local broadcasters accountable for airing programming in the public interest, particularly election coverage.
Former FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, now managing director of the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc., helped introduce the campaign. Called The “Community-by-Community Campaign for Better Local Broadcasting” was initiated by the Public Interest, Public Airwaves Coalition, which includes public policy, grassroots and media reform groups.
“We are asking citizen groups to meet with their local TV broadcasters and ask them to sign a pledge to air a minimum of two hours per week of candidate and electoral discourse for the six weeks leading up to the Nov. 2 election,” states Tristani.
“This year’s election is being labeled one of the most partisan, divisive and raucous in recent history, and many Americans believe that the future and the values of our country are at stake,” Tristani said. Yet study after study shows that issue and electoral coverage by television stations is at an all-time low.”
The groups cites a 2002 study by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication, which found that more than half of all top-rated local news
broadcasts aired no campaign coverage in the seven weeks leading up to Election Day 2002.
On hand to listen to the concerns raised were current FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein.
“Some broadcasters are committing to air more candidate-centered speech and public service announcements this year, but not enough of them,” states Copps.
Broadcasters say they do ask candidates to appear on their stations, but often, the free airtime is turned down.