Issue ads on CBS

MoveOn.org has submitted a rebuttal ad to the dishonest, taxpayer-funded pro-Medicare-“reform” ad CBS has agreed to run.

The MoveOn ad is pretty tough, but as far as I can tell it’s entirely accurate.

MoveOn is urging its friends to bombard CBS with (polite) comment:

CBS Comment Line

(212) 975-4321

Note: When I called, it rang for a long time, but I eventually got an operator, who was going to transfer me to a garbage-can voicemail but agreed to transfer me instead to the voicemail of an actual human being, for whom I left a message.

Email:

newmediasales@cbs.com

MoveOn is trying to track the number of messages generated. The MoveOn counter is here.

This situation frames the issue nicely: Are the public airways to be monopolized by government propaganda, or are they to be fora for legitimate debate?

If broadcast spectrum were real private property, leased to the high bidder for fixed terms of years under a system that prevented any one entity, or small number of entitites, from dominating, there would be a good case for saying that owners of that spectrum were within their rights in picking and choosing among advocacy ads. But since the spectrum has been handed out for free, and since the people who own it are subject to governmental pressure and in need of governmental favor (Viacom, the parent of CBS, was the big winner from the recent relaxation of ownership rules), the public has a right to demand even-handedness.

Italy and Russia, where the airwaves are closed to views other than those of the party in power, have shown the way this country really doesn’t want to go. Someday, broadcast may not matter. But it sure matters now.

[Thanks to an alert reader for the pointer to the Ad Age website with links to the ads.]

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Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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