President Clinton, saying broadcasters have a public service responsibility that they have not been meeting, signed an executive order forming a panel to examine what public service should be required in return for obtaining licenses for digital TV. The president also called for the Federal Communications Commission to require broadcasters to give free TV time to political candidates. FCC chairman Reed Hundt endorsed the request and said broadcasters could provide the time without significant impact on their earnings by using time spent on self-promotion. Mr. Hundt, who has complained about the decreasing time broadcasters devote to public service announcements, said the FCC may also look at that issue as well. The National Association of Broadcasters called a free time for political candidates proposal "unworkable" because many stations cover multiple congressional districts.
Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.