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The Debate On the Future of Television

The Debate On the Future of Television

Digital TV | Free Time for Candidates | Kid's TV | V-Chip | Public TV | FCC

The Benton Foundation views free, over-the-air broadcast television as an important information service, crucial to an informed democracy, and a vital part of the emerging National Information Infrastructure. Benton offers this space to educate the public about what's at stake and to include citizens and noncommercial interests in the debate on the future of television. Benton's briefing, Broadcast Spectrum and the Debate on the Future of Television, is an introduction to the broadcast spectrum issues raised in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and their possible affects on free, over-the-air television. The debate covers a range of issues including the proposed transition to Digital TV, broadcast time for political debate, children's educational programming, and public broadcasting.

Television is a powerful medium that reaches nearly every household in America. Powerful enough to do great things for the American people. It can be a tool to aid in the education our children. It can provide us with a medium for political debate. The new interactive and on-demand features can provide the information people want and need every day.

What's really at stake is whether TV will contribute to a better tomorrow for us all - in a way that meets commercial interests and the nation's public interest.

I. The Transition to Digital Television & the "Spectrum Giveaway"

Commission Adopts Rules for Digital Television Service. Separate Statements issued by Chairman Hundt and Commissioners Quello, Ness and Chong. 4/4/97

Commission Adopts Table of Allotments for DTV: Establishes Policies and Rules. Separate Statements issued by Chairman Hundt and Commissioners Quello, Ness and Chong. 4/4/97

Executive Order Creates Public Interest Obligation Panel (3/11/97)

Benton files supporting comments in call to define television broadcasters' public interest obligations. (Filed 1/24/97)

Support initiative to define broadcasters' public interest obligations (12/3/96)

A. Background Publications B. Recent FCC Proceedings on Digital Television

II. Free Air Time for Political Candidates

Update: Common Cause Releases New Report on Sprectrum Giveaway and Freetime for Candidates

President Clinton Favors Free Time for Candidates
(3/11/97) FCC Clears the Way for Network Proposals to Provide Time to Presidential Candidates. (8/23/96)

Benton's comments on Broadcaster Proposals to Provide Time To Presidential Candidates

FCC Seeks Comments on Free Time for Presidential Candidates

III. Children's Educational Television

Benton's Summary of the FCC's New Children's TV Rules (9/96)
(10 page document)

FCC Adopts New Children's TV Rules (FCC 96-335). News Release includes separate statements issued by Chairman Hundt and Commissioners Quello, Ness and Chong.
[ Text Version | WordPerfect Version | News Release ] (8/9/96)

IV. The V-Chip

V-Chip Update(2/27/97)

The FCC released a Public Notice askinhg for comment on broadcasters' rating system. Television broadcasters began using a voluntary ratings system to rate the content of television programming -- January 1997.

V. The Future of Public Broadcasting

The Future of Public Service Television with Press and Policy Updates

VI. Speeches by FCC Chairman Reed Hundt on the Future of Television

Broadcasting, Cable, and The Franchise (3/18/97) DTV and DARS: Let's Get On With It (2/24/97) A New Paradigm For Digital Television (10/96) Children and the Information Superhighway : Directions for the Future (10/96) America Needs Quality Free TV Digital TV: We Can Work It Out Reading The First Amendment In Favor Of Children: Implementing the Children's Television Act of 1990 A New Paradigm For Broadcast Regulation Revitalizing Democracy In The Information Age Television, Kids, Indecency, Violence and the Public Interest The Progressive Way Free Time and Free TV

En Banc Hearing on Spectrum Policy

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Last updated: 7 April 1997 kjt