Broadcasters' reform hope? Yes or no

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Broadcasters caught a glimmer of hope Tuesday on word that sponsors of
campaign-finance reform will allow the House of Representatives to vote 'yes' or
'no' on whether they think broadcasters should have to sell advertising to
politicians at bargain prices.

That amendment was included last summer in the Senate version of
campaign-finance reform, and it was sponsored by Sen. Robert Torricelli
(D-N.J.).

The House will debate campaign-finance reform Wednesday.

First, members will choose one of possibly four base bills. After one bill is
chosen -- which most expect to be legislation sponsored by Reps. Christopher
Shays (R-Conn.) and Martin Meehan (D-Mass.) -- members will vote on up to 20
amendments.

The amendments are divided into three groups: Shays and Meehan can offer 10,
while House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and House Minority Leader
Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) can offer five each.

Reps. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Gene Green (D-Texas) are sponsors of an
amendment that would allow members to vote the Torricelli language out of
Shays-Meehan.

Sources said Shays and Meehan have agreed to offer the amendment as one of
their 10 because Shays, in particular, believes broadcasters have not gotten a
fair hearing on that part of the legislation.

Broadcast sources said getting a yes-or-no vote on the amendment is their
best chance of killing it altogether.

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