Scripps TV stations make 2,192 minutes of airtime available to political candidates

Tue, December 17, 2002 by Mark Kroeger

CINCINNATI – The E. W. Scripps Company’s broadcast television station group made 2,192 minutes of free airtime available to 241 candidates for local, state and federal offices during the recently completed mid-term election campaigns. The free airtime was made available as part of the company’s Democracy 2002 project, a public discourse initiative that was created to enhance the political process in communities served by the nine network-affiliated Scripps stations. The free airtime was made available to the candidates in the form of debates, town hall forums and other unedited formats. Two of the company’s stations - WXYZ-TV in Detroit and WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla. - hosted statewide debates. John Lansing, senior vice president/broadcast for Scripps, said that based on the interest raised by Democracy 2002, the company has decided to sponsor a similar initiative during the 2004 national election campaigns. The company first offered candidates free airtime during the 2000 election campaigns.“We take our responsibility as stewards of the public airwaves very seriously,” Lansing said. “Our free-airtime initiatives provide viable candidates a level playing field on which to campaign, and we’re helping to educate and involve the public in the political process. Based on the positive response we received this year, we intend to continue this program in 2004.” Democracy 2002 provided five minutes of free airtime to candidates nightly between 5 p.m. and 11:35 p.m. in the 30 days preceding the general elections. The stations also provided free airtime as needed during the 30 days preceding primary elections. Other key elements of Democracy 2002 included: Election-related content on Internet sites operated by the Scripps stations, including candidate positions on issues, voter registration information, information on the offices being sought and descriptions of political jurisdictional boundaries. Links to candidate Web sites also were included when available.  Priority clearance in public service announcement inventories for “get out the vote” announcements during the 30-day period prior to the primary and general elections.  Editorial concentration by the Scripps stations on key local issues during the 30 days leading up to the general election. News coverage was developed through an interactive process with local citizens and citizen groups.  A careful review of the context and accuracy of political advertisements on television and the Internet.  Special programming such as town meetings and debates.Making free airtime available to political candidates was one of the primary recommendations made in 2000 by the President’s Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters.The Scripps television stations are concentrated in the top 50 U.S. markets and reach about 10 percent of the nation’s television households. Participating in Democracy 2002 were the company’s six ABC affiliated stations, WXYZ, Detroit; WCPO, Cincinnati; WEWS, Cleveland; WFTS, Tampa, Fla.; WMAR, Baltimore; and KNXV, Phoenix. Also participating were the company’s three NBC affiliated stations, WPTV, West Palm Beach, Fla.; KSHB, Kansas City, Mo.; and KJRH, Tulsa, Okla.The E.W. Scripps Company is a diverse media concern with interests in newspaper publishing, broadcast television, national television networks, interactive media and television-retailing. Scripps operates 21 daily newspapers, 10 broadcast TV stations, four cable and satellite television programming services and a home shopping network. Scripps national television network brands include Home & Garden Television, Food Network, DIY -- Do It Yourself Network, Fine Living and Shop At Home Network. Scripps Networks programming can be seen in 25 countries. Scripps also operates Scripps Howard News Service, United Media, the worldwide licensing and syndication home of PEANUTS and DILBERT, and 31 Web sites, including hgtv.com, foodtv.com, diynet.com, fineliving.com and comics.com. The E. W. Scripps CompanyBroadcast Television GroupDemocracy 2002Results by StationStation.... City...........................Free airtime(minutes)....Number of candidatesKJRH........Tulsa.....................................230...................................11KNXV.......Phoenix.................................236...................................28KSHB.......Kansas City..........................210...................................10WCPO......Cincinnati.............................150....................................30WEWS......Cleveland..............................94....................................15WFTS.......Tampa Bay...........................300....................................33WMAR.....Baltimore.............................305....................................33WPTV......West Palm Beach.................345...................................34 WXYZ......Detroit...................................322....................................35Total.......................................................2,192.................................241

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