ABC’s Debate “Restrictions” Will Change…What?

ABC, the sponsor of tonight’s Democratic presidential debate, is circulating usage guidelines stating that (
the New York Times) “other news organizations are only allowed to excerpt half a minute from the broadcast…That means choosing only one 30-second clip to use on television and the Web between 11 p.m. Wednesday and 5 a.m. Thursday.”

“Gone off the deep end” is how David Kurtz describes ABC’s guidelines on Talking Points Memo. But wait. So, per ABC’s restrictions, CNN and Fox and everyone else will have to essentially reduce the entire debate to one 30-second clip? Isn’t that what they do anyway?

A perhaps more sincere question from TPM’s Kurtz: “If broadcast networks are going to package public events this way, should they count toward the various public interest obligations that networks and their affiliates are supposed to fulfill under FCC regulations?”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.