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Edwards to Networks: Free the Debates!

Jeff Jarvis

MoveOn just forwarded me a letter that John Edwards sent to the heads of the networks asking them to free the debates for our online use. Addressed to Jim Walton - CNN, Leslie Moonves - CBS, Jeffrey Zucker -- NBC Universal, Anne Sweeney -- Disney-ABC, Paula Kerger - PBS, and Howard Dean of the DNC, it says:

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Selecting a president is the most important responsibility Americans have. In an age of 30-second ads, 7-second sound bites and media consolidation, making an informed decision is harder than ever.That is why I am asking each news network to make video footage from the presidential debates that they broadcast available on the internet for the public to view and use responsibly. I am also asking Chairman Dean, who is playing a valuable role in organizing many of the Democratic primary debates, to use his influence with the networks to make the debates more broadly available.

The Creative Commons license terms offer an easy way to ensure that the networks' rights are protected. Much of the content on my own campaign web site is available under just such a license. Commercial constraints are severe enough in their effect in diluting the substance of our campaigns. Limiting access to long-form televised debates makes matters worse.

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See my prior coverage of the crusade to free the debates here. The MoveOn folks explained that they and Lawrence Lessig had gone after the DNC and RNC to open up the debates because there are so many reuqests for debates that they become the media kingmakers. But I said that we also need to shame the networks into opening up our own political discussion. Now Edwards is calling them to account.

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By washingtonpost.com Editors |  May 3, 2007; 9:41 PM ET John Edwards
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