I Want My Free TV
Clinton asks for free air time for candidates, pushes lawmakers to pass reform legislation
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 11) -- As part of his push for campaign finance reform, President Bill Clinton made a plea to broadcasters today to provide free television time for political candidates. He also called on lawmakers to pass campaign reform legislation now.
Acknowledging the fund-raising controversies that have embroiled his party, the president said, "We have to use the present intense interest in this, as well as the controversy over fund-raising in the last election, and all the publicity as a spur to action."
"We cannot let it become what it is in danger of becoming, which is an excuse for inaction," Clinton said.
Speaking at the Conference on Free Television and Political Reform held at the National Press Club, Clinton made his pitch for free air time. "Free time for candidates can help free our democracy from the grip of big money," he said.
"We are the only major democracy where candidates have to raise larger and larger sums of money simply to communicate with voters through the medium that matters most. Every other major democracy offers candidates or parties free air time to speak to voters," Clinton argued.(256K WAV sound)
To study the "public interest obligations" of the proposal, the president announced the creation of an advisory panel. The 15-member commission will be comprised of commercial and non-commercial broadcasters, computer companies, producers, academicians, advertisers and public interest groups.
Legislation calling for free or discounted TV time for political ads has already been introduced in Congress.
The president also had a message for Capitol Hill. "We have to take advantage of this year to pass campaign finance reform," he said.
"This [campaign finance reform] will not happen unless there is bipartisan support, but there is evidence that if the environment is right, if the support is deep enough, if the calls are strong enough and positive enough, we can get this kind of change," Clinton said.
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