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Our Right to Know, and Debate: The Media's Role in a Democratic Society

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A start would be to ban all political advertising from the airwaves: Some of the most egregious abuses in misleading and deceptive advertising are found in these ads. They are driven by negative messages and fear---creating distrust and confusion rather than informed public debate. If tobacco ads can be banned because of danger to our bodies, political advertising can be banned because of danger to our body politic.

Coincidently, the principle of "equal-time" must be reinstituted as a requirement for broadcast licensing.

And we must look for another media model. In many democratic countries, publicly-funded broadcasting offers diversity as well as depth in programming that is infinitely better than ours. This is possible because systems like the BBC are considered vital to democratic, representative, and responsible programming. They are adequately funded through user-license fees, unlike our own pathetically under-funded PBS---currently facing attacks both from President Bush and PBS opponents in Congress.

Democracy depends on alternatives to for-profit news and corporate-dependent public broadcasting. If we value democracy and informed public debate, we must insist that a viable alternative be found, and implemented.
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Donald Archer is a painter, observer, and commentator living on California's Central Coast. His work may be seen at www.DonaldArcher.com.

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