Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) would like nothing better than to load fall TV schedules with election-year obligations, including quotas for political coverage and free ad time for federal candidates.
McCain has a speech in his coat pocket challenging broadcasters to ratchet up campaign reporting and cut down ad rates for presidential and congressional candidates. The Commerce Committee Chairman was planning to throw down the challenge during a speech to NAB convention three weeks ago but his wife's illness forced him to cancel.
Last week McCain confirmed he'll ask network stations and other big TV groups to commit, but hasn't decided when he'll make his appeal.
In the meantime FCC Chairman Michael Powell is working on his own challenge. An aide said Powell will ask for a "measurable" amount of political coverage.
CBS, Fox and NBC O&Os ran 5 minutes of political coverage a night 2000, but Powell's aide said there's no decision yet on whether they'll be asked to match those numbers this election year.
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