Broadcast license law could be tightened

Feb. 16, 2005 at 10:53 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Congress will consider legislation tightening regulations on U.S. broadcasting licenses, The Hollywood Reporter said Wednesday.

The paper said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced the legislation to shorten the term of a broadcaster's license and to require the Federal Communications Commission to perform full reviews on at least 5 percent of all licenses. The legislation would also require broadcasters to post information on their Internet sites detailing their commitment to local public affairs programming.

The legislation is a response to shrinking TV coverage of local political campaigns. The Norman Lear Center at University of Southern California reported Tuesday local TV newscasts contained little coverage of local political campaigns last year.

The center studied more than 4,300 broadcasts and found 64 percent of them included at least one election story -- but a typical half-hour newscast carried just over 3 minutes of campaign coverage.

While 55 percent of the broadcasts had stories on the presidential election, just 8 percent had any news about local races for the U.S. House of Representatives or for state and local elections.

The Lear Center said local newscasts carried eight times as much news about accidental injuries than about election campaigns.

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