Broadcasting below presidential radar


Sometimes when you're inside the Beltway, you can't help but think that issues surrounding communications in general and broadcasting in particular are of vital importance and interest to just about everybody. Hearings on the topic often pack in wall-to-wall audiences, and the politicians and witnesses heap on massive piles of rhetoric about influence on the democratic process, our children, our waste lines, our morals – in short, you name it.

We still remember Fred Upton (R-MI) the first time he introduced the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act calling it the most important bill before Congress. Although perhaps he can be forgiven – such hyperbolic language is thrown about casually all the time in Washington – but we couldn't help thinking that dozens of issues were facing the nation at the time that easily eclipsed the importance of raising fines on broadcasters for saying naughty words on the air.

But given all this, an RBR survey of the websites of all 19 announced presidential candidates revealed that only three figured broadcast issues were important enough for them to list a position on it. The lone Democrat was Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who wants free air time for politicians, more public broadcasting, public involvement in license renewals and more LPFM, among other things.

On the Republican side, Sam Brownback (R-KS) touted his introduction of the aforementioned Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act (he carried Upton's torch through the Senate), and let it go at that. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) noted that he voted for the same Act. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is it. Note that John McCain (R-AZ), who has a lengthy track record of dealings on communications issues, is among the 16 who left it off the website.

SmartMedia observation: So once again it is obvious that as hot as communications issues can get in Washington, it is extremely unlikely to be an issue that makes or breaks anybody's candidacy on either side.