Thursday, March 11, 2010

Letter: Radio electioneering gives undue advantage

Today's letter from Steve Chontos is probably directed at Councilman Steve Blair and his daily for-profit AM show, but it's an issue for me too, since I've been producing a weekly public-radio show with LD1 Rep Lucy Mason for over seven years.

Until last year the FCC allowed elected officials to maintain regular broadcast appearances even during elections if the content did not involve direct electioneering. Last year the rules changed, and now candidates whether incumbent or not are not permitted unrebuttable airtime.

But even at the beginning, under the old rules, I have always been concerned about the perception that the show might serve for political gain, and careful to avoid that sort of conflict.

I designed the show specifically to provide vital public information in the form of regular reports on what our representative is doing at the Legislature. This inevitably involves political opinion as she explains her bills, votes and choices. When she's been up for reelection we have very deliberately stayed clear of any talk about the campaigns, opponents or future plans that might be taken as campaign promises to keep the show clean and, most important, credible and trustworthy. We can't disconnect entirely from the reality of electoral politics, but I think overall we've been very successful in maintaining a public-interest program of high integrity.

In considering this issue, voters should ask themselves what's more important -- direct information from your elected officials on what they're doing and why, or reducing the electoral advantage of incumbents by shutting them up. Carried to its logical end, Mr Chontos' argument would ban any public speech by an elected official that does not include equal time by a political opponent.


Anonymous said...

chontos isn't refering to Mason.
He's refering, I think, to Fann.
She, like Blair, continually promote themselves and 'their political views' Luzius put a stop to it via FCC with Blair. KYCA and Fann ought to follow suit and will, no doubt, be made to.

Steven Ayres said...

Are you saying that Karen Fann has a regular show on KYCA, or that she's a regular guest or something? She's a declared candidate, so FCC rules would not allow her to have a regular show or unrebuttable time. I see she doesn't appear on the KYCA schedule. Please clarify.