McCain: Free airtime for candidates


New Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) has made good on a promise to put campaign-finance reform on his 2003 agenda.

He laid out his 2003 telecommunications agenda Thursday. The committee will assess whether broadcasters are meeting their public-interest obligations -- including the availability of the lowest-unit-rate charge in the 2002 elections -- and he will consider legislation to provide free airtime to political candidates.

Also on his docket are media consolidation, cable rates, the transition to digital television, broadband deployment, the financial crisis in the industry and spectrum policies.