In a report released yesterday which was based in part on an honors thesis written by a Harvard undergraduate, an Institute of Politics-funded study group has called on the government to allow political candidates more access to television advertising.
The Campaign Finance Study Group, a committee of 11 members including five Harvard faculty, found that the time now available to non-incumbent candidates is insufficient to promote their "name recognition."
This lack of access to television for politicians is the product of the "decline of national parties" and "alienation from politics," Christopher Aterton, the study group chairman and assistant professor of political science at Yale, said yesterday.
The report, based on an undergraduate thesis by George H. White '77, outlines nine recommendations to increase "the availability of television to political candidates."
The committee suggested that "further study of the potential impact of the various Federal subsidiary plans" be undertaken and that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "explicitly prohibit blanket refusals" by networks to sell political advertising time. The FCC was also called upon to monitor independent candidates' spending and to "work with the Federal Election Commission."
Moreover, the study group recommended that Congress enact legislation suspending the equal opportunities provision of the Federal Communications Act, "requiring networks to release each week to their licensees twenty 30-second prime-time segments restricted for sale to political candidates during the campaign period," and permitting networks to deduct from gross income "the difference between the actual rates paid by political advertisers and the average commercial rates for comparable time charged during the campaign period."
The committee concluded that no specific amount of free time should be established, but that Congress should set up a program of tax incentives to promote public service programming devoted to election campaigns.
Arterton said yesterday that "White's research pointed the way" towards the Campaign Study Group's suggestions. "The report is timed auspiciously," he said. "The House Committee on Commerce has just decided to overhaul the Federal Commerce Act of 1934--which established the FCC and gives them their authority."
Arterton added, "We're trying to get time to testify in front of the Committee on Interstate Commerce and the Subcommittee on Communication."