April 20, 2004

Senate Politic$ in the Media 

Big campaign spending may or may not elect candidates, but it sure helps local television stations. Consider this picture: the three major network affiliates in Champaign took in more than $1 million from just the candidates in the U.S. Senate primary. (Thanks to Phil Bloomer of the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette for pointing this out.) TV stations in Chicago got almost $9 million from the candidates in the month leading up to the Illinois Primary. Nice work if you can get it. No wonder the National Association of Broadcasters is the leading voice in Washington against campaign finance reform. These and other lovely stats on political spending in Illinois can be enjoyed at the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform site. Did Blair Hull really spend almost $30 million in the Senate Primary race? And lost? Looks like the Democratic Primary winner, Barack Obama, spent only about an eighth of that. Maybe there's hope for democracy yet. As a public broadcasting station WILL can't exactly bill candidates for air time. In fact we give it away by the truckload. Then we go on the air and ask you to support us with your dollars. And you're not even running for office! Well maybe that's not a good business plan. On the other hand, we don't think access to the voters should go to the highest bidder.

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