Wright to open Gore panel

WASHINGTON — The Gore commission will begin debate about public interest in the digital age next month with testimony from NBC president Robert Wright.

Also testifying at the Dec. 5 meeting will be Paul Taylor, a former Washington Post reporter who quit his job to launch a campaign aimed at forcing broadcasters to hand over free airtime to politicians during the election season.

The Gore commission, officially known as the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, is a White House-appointed panel charged with deciding what additional public-interest obligations broadcasters should be tagged with.

The Clinton administration argues that broadcasters owe the public some additional services in return for the valuable digital TV spectrum they are being given. High on the administration’s wish list is a set-aside of free time for political candidates.

Broadcasters, including Wright, have argued that broadcasters already give politicians lots of free airtime through their coverage of the debates and regular news coverage of the campaigns. Taylor and others argue that the networks should set aside a small amount of time for candidates to address the American people directly without any kind of journalistic intermediary.

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