HIGHTOWER: TV Networks Cover-Up Campaign Corruption

One group that has been suspiciously quiet about the national scandal of corporate money polluting America's politics is the very group that usually loves a juicy scandal: TV networks.While newspapers have begun doing a good job of tracking fat-cat contributors and the favors they buy for their cash, the Big Five Broadcasters have given this explosive story as little attention as possible, providing viewers with none of the in-depth, saturation coverage that they devote to, say, the O.J. Simpson trial.Why have ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and FOX not been beating the drums for campaign finance reform? Because they profit from the corruption.FIRST, a big chunk of the money given to candidates by the special interests ends-up being spent on television ads. In last year's elections, the top 75 media markets collected $400 million to run political ads. Why push to reform a system that fills your company's pockets with so much cash?SECOND, the conglomerate owners of the Big Five themselves are among the worst corruptors of the system, funneling more than $3 million in unregulated, corporate funds into the Republican and Democratic parties for the '96 elections.The result of their contributions is billions of dollars worth of direct subsidies, special tax breaks and other governmental favors for Disney, Time-Warner, Westinghouse, Rupert Murdoch and GE -- the owners of the networks. One especially ripe plum that they intend to pluck from the federal tree this spring are licenses for digital television. Like all of the airwaves, this broadcast spectrum is owned by you and me -- the public. It is estimated to be worth at least $70 BILLION, but the TV giants want it FREE OF CHARGE . . . and Washington is going along with this theft.This is Jim Hightower saying . . . and that's why the networks are not pushing to reform campaign corruption.

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