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Media Institute Scores "People for Better TV" Coalition

FOR RELEASE: May 3, 1999

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute


May 3, 1999

The Media Institute today took issue with a new coalition seeking additional public interest obligations for digital broadcasters. The group, named "People for Better TV," claims that "parents, children, and communities must be protected in the digital age" and will be asking the FCC to hold hearings.

"This is Gore Commission deja vu," said Patrick D. Maines, president of The Media Institute.

"This coalition relies on the flawed premise that broadcasters got something for nothing when they received spectrum for digital TV and thus 'owe' the public something in return," Maines said. He noted that broadcasters are required to give back their analog channels to the FCC after they convert to digital, and that there is no guarantee that digital broadcasting will be an economic success, as even the Gore Commission recognized.

"Many special interests and regulators have used the conversion to digital as an excuse to try imposing additional public interest obligations on broadcasters. Logically, however, there is no connection -- no reason why a change in technology should warrant more government controls on program content," Maines said.

During the term of the Gore Commission, The Media Institute's Public Interest Council published numerous policy papers and other documents pointing out constitutional and other shortcomings of proposals for additional public interest obligations. "The Public Interest Council will be actively involved in any government proceedings, including FCC hearings, on this matter," Maines said.