November 1983 Home   Newsletters

December 1983

Janruary 1984

Christmas Luncheon
President's Message (Arlene Woo)
Airing of Proposed Zoning Changes Draws Sizeable Audience (Astrid Monson)
Preparing for Phase II National Security Consensus
League Gears for Second Round of ERA Fight
Hearings for Development Plans Scheduled
FEC Ruling May Affect Debates
League Theater Party a Smash
Charter Amendments
News Bits
League on American Voices Series
Plans for News Release of Consensus on Arms Control
Membership Update
Calendar
National Security - Consensus on Military Policy and Defense Spending

FEC Ruling May Affect Debates

The Federal Communications Commission has just ruled that political debates between "legally qualified candidates" arranged and sponsored by a broadcast licensee may be considered on-the-spot coverage of a bona fide news event, thus exempt from the equal opportunity requirement of Section 315 (a)(4) of the Communications Act.

Formerly, broadcasters covered debates as news events to avoid having to provide equal opportunity for air time for all people running for office. The recent FCC ruling will tend to encourage broadcasters to sponsor and stage political debates.

At a Senate committee hearing conducted( to examine the role of the electronic media in political campaigns and debates, League President Dorothy Ridings testified:

"----The League has serious reservations about allowing broadcasters to sponsor debates. We firmly believe that those who report the news should not make the news. Separating sponsorship decisions from broadcast coverage decisions is important in our view to ensuring a lack of bias and the perception of lack of bias in candidate de-bates. Allowing broadcasters to both make the news and cover the news by permitting them to both sponsor and cover debates would have a number of bad effects. "

The Federal Elections Commission could still specify certain requirements which would protect the public interest and guarantee that debates are nonpartisan and do not favor one candidate over another.

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