Advocates of free time for candidates are many — those who try it are few

Though the 1988 campaign prompted many calls for television networks to let candidates talk directly to the voters, candidates again this season have to buy time or squeeze through the media filter to get on the air. That’s not to say that some producers aren’t trying the idea; the ones who do, however, are finding that their success in presenting candidates in an unedited, nonconfrontational format hinges on the political considerations of candidates, networks and viewers. Voices of the Electorate, the two-part series produced by Alvin Perlmutter’s Independent Production Fund (IPF) and two minority citizens’ groups, is the most visible recent example (Current, Sept. 21). The series aired last month after PBS and the American Program Service ordered last-minute cuts to eliminate Democratic candidate Bill Clinton’s unedited comments, which both distributors deemed ”inappropriate.” APS said Clinton’s remarks didn’t respond to the minority issue discussed in the program.