Those running for governor or federal office in the vicinity of the six Post-Newsweek television stations will have an opportunity to use the stations to make their case to the public at no charge. Post-Newsweek is echoing a similar offer recently put forth by Belo Corporation.
The group’s stations include NBC WDIV Detroit; NBC KPRC Houston; ABC WPLG Miami; CBS WKMG Orlando; ABC KSAT San Antonio; and indy WJXT Jacksonville. All three states have key battleground contests in the offing, including a surprisingly competitive race for governor pitting incumbent Rick Perry (R) against Houston mayor Bill White (D).
Group president Alan Frank said, “Post-Newsweek Stations have a long-standing commitment to providing comprehensive election coverage in the communities we serve. The upcoming elections will change the shape of government, both on the local level and across the nation. Our responsibility as news and public affairs leaders is to ensure that candidates and voters have a platform for rigorous public discourse. Our goal is to bring the two sides together so that voters can make the most informed decisions.”
When the pre-election clock hits 30 days, candidates will be offered airtime on both broadcast and related internet facilities. The stations will also make sure there is at least 10 minutes of locally-produced election news weekly, throughout the broadcast day. Stations will also seek out opportunities to participate in debates and town hall meetings related to the elections.
The program is not new to the group – it had over 150 candidates on board for it in the prior 2008 election cycle.
Belo Corporation, also a perennial provider of political airtime and coverage, announced its program a few weeks ago. That announcement was, of course, not a surprise, since Belo always gets around to making it.
RBR-TVBR observation: Programs such as these do more than just reflect well on the station and provide excellent fodder for the public file. They also build good will among members of both parties both in the state capital and in Washington. The more groups that make a similar offering, the better it will be for television as a whole.