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    • I am working on an essay on this but wanted to make sure I had my ducks in a row. So the question is why are our Presidential debates owned by media companies to broadcast to their exclusive network of paid subscribers? I do realize one can find the debates after the fact on Youtube and they are ran on some radio stations live, but why are these not covered by CSPAN and made available immediately to the public for free via the web? This has been bothering me for the last few elections now that the technology is possible to distribute this to the public for free.

      I believe this is a fundamental right of the American people to engage with the source material attached to who will represent their country moving forward. This is why I am such a big fan of CSPAN as we have the opportunity to bypass the talking heads and go right to the source.

      I know an Equal Time Rule had been established in the Radio Act of 1927 to assure equal time for candidates for Broadcast stations so would this need to be encoded into a Communications act to assure free coverage of all presidential debates? Is it just me or is this a fundamental problem with the electoral process that could be addressed? Elections are not supposed to be a commercial enterprise. This is supposed to be a public service is it not? If not, why is an MSNBC logo on the screen capture below. I

      Interested in hearing feedback on this.

    • My take is so long as people can view them afterwards on YouTube in their entirety, I have no problem with one network getting the debate for that night. Also, they’re airing on networks that come with virtually every cable package. If they were on a subscription only service like HBO then I would have a beef.

    • As of 2006, 58% of American Households had Basic Cable with cord cutters leaving at an increasing rate over the last couple of years. I don't have the current numbers but I am sure it is less than 50% of the electorate who do not have access to the debates as they happen. And do a keyword search for presidential debate on Youtube and look at all the first page of results. They are all recaps of the debate, not the debate itself. All talking heads sharing their opinions on what was shared. Just seems wrong and a bit worrisome to me. In my opinion at least.

    • I think the expectation is that people should watch rather than just listen to the debates: if memory serves me right, Nixon won over radio listeners in his debate with Kennedy but lost handily to folks who watched the debate on television. Think of the debate from September when Biden was seen using his tongue to push his dentures back into place and you lose a great deal of body language information if you only listen via radio. My opinion, FWIW.

      I checked around and could not find yesterday’s debates on NPR radio stations or anywhere else. However, you could’ve gone to your local library and listened to the entire debate for free on if you lived on the West Coast: if you lived in New York City, the libraries most likely were closed by the start time of the debate.

      So yeah, it is a problem of political disenfranchisement for those who can’t afford cable, satellite or internet services.

      This is a really good point, @paulduplantis . I never would’ve caught this issue otherwise. I’ve learned from your sharing today.


    • Funny you mention the Kennedy Nixon debate and radio vs. TV. This is a point Marshall McLuhan had brought up which really made me start to think about the role of media in our social order years ago. The media is the message. How true this is. Always learning from you what you share Stephen. Good stuff!!!!

    • You make a good observation.

      One could invert the point and ask: "are there any reasons FOR putting political debates behind a subscription paywall"?

      If you can't find any (and I can't think of one), then you have answered your question.