McCain Wants to Reduce License Term to Three Years

Feb 15, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., unveiled legislation Tuesday to cut the license terms of broadcasters from eight years to three, a measure the lawmaker said is intended to let the public and Federal Communications Commission keep closer tabs on the industry’s public interest programming.

Under the measure, broadcasters would also be required to cite on station Web sites the programming they have aired to meet their public interest obligations.

The legislation was announced in response to a study released Tuesday by the Lear Center Local News Archive suggesting that local TV newscasts gave short shrift to local political races in 2004. According to the study, which analyzed Big 4 TV station newscasts in 11 markets between Oct. 4 and Nov. 1, 64 percent of the broadcasts included at least one election story.

But according to the study, 55 percent of the broadcasts featured a story about the presidential race, while only 8 percent looked at a local race. “Eight times more coverage went to stories about accidental injuries, and 12 times more coverage to sports and weather, than to coverage of all local races combined,” the report said.

In a statement, the National Association of Broadcasters criticized the study for failing to count the political coverage in morning, midday and late-night programming.

“Americans get their news 24/7, yet Lear researchers only counted political coverage between the hours of 5 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.,” the NAB said.

Said Sen. McCain, “I think citizens deserve more than they’re getting from their local newscasters.”