Scripps TV stations expand industry-leading commitment to election coverage

Tue, February 07, 2012 by Tim King

The E.W. Scripps Company, which started granting free airtime to political candidates more than a decade ago, has renewed its commitment to unrivaled election coverage with multiple enhancements that make the Scripps commitment unique in our local markets.

As part of “Democracy 2012,” the Scripps stations in all 13 of the company’s television markets will provide a minimum of 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 will provide free airtime as needed during the 30 days preceding primary elections. The Scripps television station group successfully implemented a similar free airtime policy during the national elections in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Scripps was so successful engaging its audiences in those six election cycles that it is taking its election commitment to new levels for the 2012 political season with multiplatform coverage that can be a virtual one-stop shop of voter education.

“Because it is consistent with our vision that we ‘give light and the people will find their own way,’ I’m proud that Scripps began giving free airtime to candidates many years ago,” said Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of the Scripps television division. “And I’m glad to see many broadcasters undertaking similar efforts this year to make politicians’ stances on issues well known.  At Scripps, political education and discourse are a centerpiece of our local news presentation.   In one of the most crucial election cycles in our lifetimes, we’re going to marinate our audience in political coverage so they’ll make fully informed choices when it comes time to vote.”

In addition to the free airtime for candidates, Democracy 2012 includes the following enhancements: 

  • The Scripps television stations in Tampa, the site of the Republican National Convention, and West Palm Beach, Fla., teamed up with Scripps newspapers in Naples, Fla. and the state’s Treasure Coast to provide an online portal for voters in the Sunshine State that is unmatched by any other media company.  The battleground state of Florida always is a pivotal state for the presidential election, and features a competitive senatorial race in 2012 as well. Voters can click on to get everything they need to connect to the political process, including information on candidates’ positions, voter registration information and maps of political jurisdictional boundaries.

  • Voters feel connected when they have a chance to interact with candidates, and each of the Scripps television brands is making that possible with an “Ask the Candidates” element to online election coverage. These elements will be specialized Web features that invite candidates to answer questions related to local political races.  Online users can submit their own questions, compare candidates’ answers, and participate in online discussions

  • "Get out the vote" public service announcements will receive priority clearance in each station's public service inventory during the 30-day period prior to the primary and general elections. 

  • Scripps stations will concentrate editorially on exploring key local issues during each of the 30 days leading up to the general election. Station leadership, through an interactive process with local individuals and citizen groups, will develop election coverage that is unmatched.

  • Scripps stations will pursue special programming such as town hall meetings and debates during the 30 days leading up to the general election.

  • Scripps is partnering with the Center for Responsive Politics to offer Web-based, searchable databases that allow voters to research campaign contributions and follow the money trail from the sources all the way to the beneficiaries.

  • The Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C. is expanding to provide more election material specific to local markets. Scripps will have a new team in place this year to focus on political investigations, such as the tracking of campaign finances. 

Participating in Democracy 2012 are the company's ten ABC-affiliated stations, WXYZ in Detroit; KMGH in Denver; KGTV in San Diego; KERO in Bakersfield, Calif.; WCPO in Cincinnati; WEWS in Cleveland; WRTV in Indianapolis; WFTS in Tampa, Fla.; WMAR in Baltimore; and KNXV in Phoenix. Also participating are the company's three NBC-affiliated stations, WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla.; KSHB in Kansas City, Mo.; and KJRH in Tulsa, Okla. 

Scripps ( is a diverse media enterprise with interests in television stations and newspapers that are passionate about the company’s long-time vision statement: “Give light and the people will find their own way.”

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