Media org asks broader Gore panel

WASHINGTON — A First Amendment advocacy group is urging President Clinton to broaden the membership of a blue ribbon panel looking at the public interest obligations of broadcasters in the digital age.

The Media Institute suggested that the Gore Commission, which is co-chaired by CBS television president Leslie Moonves, should be beefed up with a First Amendment scholar, an economist, a technology expert and a journalist.

Media Institute’s Patrick Maines said the additions are needed to ensure that the panel does not make recommendations that endanger the free speech rights of broadcasters.

Among the proposals currently under consideration by the panel, is a plan to force broadcasters to give free airtime to political campaigns. Another proposal would make broadcasters devote more time to educational programming.

President Clinton created the panel to explore ways of squeezing public benefits from broadcasters in return for the billions of dollars worth of digital TV spectrum they are being handed for free.

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