Coming as a surprise to exactly no one, Portland's broadcast news stations have spent very little airtime covering local, state, and even federal elections. But now a campaign finance watchdog group says the stations' lack of coverage should get their broadcast licenses revoked.

The Money in Politics Research Action Project (MIPRAP) says the four local commercial stations—KATU, KOIN, KGW, and KPTV—have failed in their requirement to provide public interest programming, including local election coverage. They've based their findings on a study of the stations' news coverage during the month before the 2004 general election, which showed that a scant 4.9 percent of news programming covered the elections.

And of that coverage, a total of six stories covered city elections, despite the fact there was a mayoral race and a hotly contested commissioner race. More than 75 percent of the political coverage was spent on the presidential race, with small amounts given to ballot measures and state and federal legislative races.

The group, along with the Oregon Alliance to Reform Media, the Campaign Legal Center, and the Media Access Project, has filed a challenge with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to not renew the stations' broadcast licenses.

Similar challenges were filed in Milwaukee and Chicago in 2005, although no action has been taken by the FCC. The license renewal process was delayed by the challenges, but the stations are still operating. SCOTT MOORE


As widely expected, City Commissioner Dan Saltzman has signed an order banning smoking in Pioneer Courthouse Square and in children's play areas in the rest of the city's parks. The ban will go into effect on January 1.

Previously, Saltzman brought forward a larger list of new "prohibited conduct," which detailed a number of biological functions that would no longer be allowed in city parks. The broadness of those rules concerned many people in the city—including ACLU Oregon—forcing Saltzman to pull the list until mid-January. SM


Anti-war activists are planning a dramatic demonstration to mark the death toll in Iraq. Organizers hope to have at least 200 people "at Pioneer Square at noon on the Saturday after the US military death toll in Iraq reaches 3,000," wearing black and playing dead.

"Unless a miracle happens we'll reach the 3,000 mark within about a week," one organizer emailed supporters on Tuesday, December 26—the day the death toll hit 2,979 confirmed deaths. AMY JENNIGES