Networks opt to drop President
Last night’s presidential news conference was originally slated to start at 8:30 PM EDT. However, it was moved to 8:00 PM after the WH realized that CBS, Fox and possibly NBC would not air it live.
Even with the time change, the end of the news conference was not seen by all. As the Chicago Tribune reports:
Shortly before 9 p.m., both CBS and NBC shifted away from Bush for analysis as the next-to-last question of the news conference was being asked. The networks ignored the last two questions and were airing "Survivor" and "The Apprentice" before the president finished talking.
While Social Security and Energy Policy may not draw the audience that “Survivor” and “The Apprentice” attract, the networks have an obligation to air the entire news conference. It is unusual that we get any more than a 6-10 second sound byte on a presidential initiative, and in the rare case that our nation gets the opportunity to hear the President explain (albeit not as thoroughly as I would have liked), the major media outlets should broadcast the entire message.
The government regulates broadcast spectrum and would be within their rights to include provisions requiring companies to provide broadcast opportunities for political and public service purposes within the contracts licensing the use of the spectrum.
In fact, as part of campaign finance reform initiatives, all major networks should be required to provide free advertising time for all major candidates for office. This would lessen the impact of money on elections (especially in the expensive media markets in major metropolitan areas) and it would provide an opportunity for everyone to be heard.