Free Ads Sought For Initiative 547

Supporters of Initiative 547, pleading poverty and citing the federal Fairness Doctrine, are asking radio stations across the state to broadcast free advertisements for the initiative to counterbalance paid advertising from opponents.

Cathy Allen of Citizens for Balanced Growth, the pro-547 committee, said about 30 stations had been contacted as of yesterday afternoon. Nine had agreed to broadcast the spots, she said, while one had refused.

The Fairness Doctrine says broadcast stations must present both sides of controversial issues. In Washington, relatively impoverished initiative campaigns have used it successfully to win free television and radio time twice before.

But Brett Bader, campaign director of Washington Taxpayers for Livable Communities, which opposes the initiative, said the stations are under no obligation to comply with the wishes of 547's backers if they have given both sides full and balanced public-affairs and news coverage.

``On radio, there's so much news,'' he said. ``It's different from TV.''

Neither side is planning any television advertising before the Nov. 6 election, spokesmen say.

In Seattle, Allen said KOMO, KING and KIRO radio had agreed to broadcast free pro-547 commercials. KOMO vice president Ed Lackner confirmed his station would broadcast the free spots - about one for every three paid commercials from the anti-547 camp.

KING general sales manager Don Oylear said his station had not yet made a decision, but was likely to give the initiative's supporters free air time.

A KIRO executive could not be reached for comment.

Initiative 547 would require cities and counties to adopt comprehensive growth plans, and mandate that they be approved by new state review panels.

The panels could withhold tax revenue or impose restrictions on development in counties and cities that don't comply.

According to the latest campaign-finance reports on file, Washington Taxpayers for Livable Communities has received about $1.35 million in contributions, Citizens for Balanced Growth about $200,000.

Both sides are relying on mail to get their messages out.

Initiative backers yesterday un

veiled a brochure they said they will mail to 350,000 likely voters, which charges that ``developers and big business'' are working to kill the proposal. Steve Zemke, campaign manager, said the mailing will cost about $40,000.

But Bader questioned how the

pro-547 committee could deserve free radio spots if it has enough money for the mailing.

The Fairness Doctrine was first used to obtain free initiative ads Washington in 1988, when supporters of Initiative 97, an environmentalist-backed toxic-waste proposal, asked stations for time.

Supporters of Initiative 97B, the industry-backed alternative, filed a complaint with the state Public Disclosure Commission in a bid to stop the free spots, but lost.

Last fall, opponents of the Children's Initiative also asked for - and got - free broadcast advertising.

Supporters of Initiative 547 say it is needed to force developers to pay for the impacts of growth. Opponents say it is vague and contradictory, and will drive up housing prices.


Big 547 donors


-- Here are the contributions of more than $10,000 to the groups supporting and opposing Initiative 547, the growth-management measure on the November ballot:


Citizens for Balanced Growth (supports Init. 547)

Campaign finance reports through Oct. 19

Washington Environmental Council (cash and pledges) $46,220.

Heart of America Northwest (cash and pledges) 21,608.

Seattle Audubon Society 10,000.


Washington Taxpayers for Livable Communities (opposes initiative)

Campaign finance reports through Oct. 22

BUILD (Associated General Contractors) $124,465.

Weyerhaeuser 70,200.

Boeing 65,000.

Affordable Housing Council (Seattle Master Builders) 33,500.

Seafirst Bank 25,000.

Washington Association of Realtors 25,240.

Washington Federal Savings & Loan (pledge) 25,000.

U S West Communications 25,000.

Security Pacific Bancorp 25,000.

Safeco Properties 25,000.

National Association of Realtors 25,000.

Plum Creek Timber 20,000.

The Sabey Companies 20,000.

Burlington Resources 20,000.

Puget Sound Power & Light 20,000.

Pacific First Federal Savings Bank and PAC 18,500.

ARCO (pledge) 17,000.

U.S. Bancorp 16,000.

PACCAR 15,000.

The Newland Group 15,000.

Washington Water Power 15,000.

BUILD-East (Associated General Contractors, Spokane) 15,000.

Simpson Investment 15,000.

Conner Development 10,275.

Blackhawk Port Blakely Communities 10,200.

David W. Lozier Jr. 10,000.

Port Blakely Tree Farms 10,000.

William Buchan 10,000.

Spieker Partners 10,000.

Quadrant Corp. 10,000.

ITT-Rayonier 10,000.

Burnstead Construction 10,000.

Centex Homes 10,000.

MacPherson's Realtors 10,000.

Murray Franklyn Companies 10,000.

Plywood Supply 10,000.

Tilton Truss Manufacturing 10,000.

Washington Natural Gas 10,000.

Woodinville Lumber 10,000.

Puget Sound Savings Bank 10,000.

Lowe Enterprises Northwest 10,000.

Washington Mutual Savings Bank 10,000.

Citizens for Local Control, Vancouver 10,000.

Wright Runstad & Co. (pledge) 10,000.

GTE Northwest, Inc. (pledge) 10,000.

Fred Meyer, Inc. (pledge) 10,000.


Source: Public Disclosure Commission