Airing Democracy: Politics and Broadcast Television
AbstractIn an information age where knowledge is power, and political knowledge doubly so, broadcast (non-cable) television is of vital importance. As the cheapest and most widely available information medium, broadcasttelevision has a uniquely democratic potential to disseminate political information across traditional socioeconomic boundaries. And as the beneficiary of the immensely valuable gift of the free use of the publiclyowned airwaves, broadcast television has a real obligation to achieve this potential. Unfortunately, the amount of useful political information available on broadcast television has declined dramatically in the past twenty years to startlingly low current levels. This paper analyzes the extent of this decline, its possible causes and effects, and previous attempts at reform. While this complex issue defies simple solution, the importance and scope of the problem warrant continued vigilance in seeking to establish television as a truly democratic medium.
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