McCain abandons attack on free airtime for pols

But spokewoman says senator 'remains committed'

WASHINGTON — With the threat of a presidential veto hanging over his head, Senate Commerce Committee John McCain (R-Az.) has backed down, for now, from his effort to ban the FCC from writing rules which would require broadcasters to give free advertising time to politicians.

After President Clinton made a veiled-veto threat during his weekend radio address, McCain decided to abandon his effort to attach the FCC-related legislation to a emergency spending bill that would have provided funding for everything from domestic disaster relief to the U.S. debt to the United Nations.

Although McCain backed down from the presidential veto challenge Tuesday, he will continue to look for other legislation to attach his anti-free airtime amendment.

“(McCain) remains committed and hopes to see it happen in the near future, but the exact vehicle is, as of yet, undetermined,” said McCain spokeswoman Nancy Ives.

Clinton has written the Federal Communications Commission twice since January, urging the agency to move forward with a proposal that would require broadcasters to give free airtime to politicians.

The Clinton administration says the free airtime plan could help solve the growing campaign finance crisis.

Needless to say, broadcasters vehemently oppose the plan.

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