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McCain unveils election-coverage bill

As promised, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill that would place new election-season obligations on TV and radio stations.

His plan would require broadcasters to air at least two hours per week of
"candidate-centered" or "issue-centered" programming before a primary or general
federal election, to pay spectrum fees that would fund vouchers that candidates and
political parties could use to buy political ads and to provide non-pre-emptible ad
time at stations' lowest unit rate.

"This legislation is designed to increase the flow of political information
in broadcast media and to reduce the cost to candidates of educating the
electorate of their candidacy," McCain said.

The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said the legislation would
lessen the time candidates would need to spend raising money to pay for ads and
reduce chances that they will become beholden to campaign donors.

"Our democracy is stronger when a candidate's success is achieved by ideas,
not by dollars, and when an electorate is informed by facts, not 12-second sound
bites," he added. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Richard
Durbin (D-Ill.).

McCain introduced similar legislation last June but received little support.

"We oppose the legislation," a spokesman for the National Association
of Broadcasters said.