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The midterm elections on Mammoth TV

October 29, 2010

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this midterm election has been the swarm of negative Nevada TV ads from Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle and incumbent U.S. Democratic Senator Harry Reid.

To state the obvious, we do not live in Nevada. This is not our election. It seems absolutely obscene that we must be subjected to these repetitious, superfluous ads. They turn to gray, vision blurs and mute buttons are pushed.

Which is not to say that we wouldn’t equally be inundated by ads for California governor, among others.

But at least in that case, we’d be watching ads that relate to candidates we could vote for.

So why must we be subjected to Nevada television on our local cable network? We got the answer from Maggie Thompson at Mammoth NPG Cable:

The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47, Part 76 states that “the market of a station shall be defined using Nielsen’s Designated Market Area (DMA).” Mammoth Lakes and June Lake are defined as the Reno DMA.

Thompson says she empathizes with the lack of California news coverage but that NPG Cable is obligated by law to carry the Reno broadcast stations the same as any other video provider in the area.

She advises contacting Congressional and Senate Representatives and letting them know you are not getting California news.

The Nevada ads exemplify the billions of campaign dollars being spent this election cycle; the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports that “spending in this year’s midterm election will ‘obliterate’ prior records,” approaching $4 billion.

One problem, beyond the assault to viewers’ intelligence, is that what we see is the money, the battle for power, the race to buy one’s way into office. As Gail Collins says in her New York Times column, “… money does not buy happiness.”

Columnist David Brooks says campaign spending doesn’t ensure votes. He lists candidates in the past few elections who outspent their opponents and lost their races.

In the context of the national campaign picture, it is refreshing to experience our local races for Superior Court Judge, Eastern Sierra Unified School Board and Mono County District Four Supervisor.

As always, the bottom line is to look past the obfuscation when voting.

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