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Alliance for Better Campaigns, Ohio Citizen Action
For immediate release: Jan. 14, 2000
Vidya Krishnamurthy, Alliance for Better Campaigns, 202-879-6761
The Alliance for Better Campaigns and Ohio Citizen Action today applauded WCPO in Cincinnati and WEWS in Cleveland and their owner, the E.W. Scripps Company, for pledging to air five minutes of candidate discourse - in the form of mini-debates, issue statements or extended interviews - every night in the month before an election.
This is a bold step by Scripps to offer viewers a political campaign based on issues and ideas, not money and ads," said Alliance Executive Director Paul Taylor. "Other broadcasters should follow Scripps' lead in giving viewers something better than politics as usual."
"This pledge by WCPO and WEWS to air brief nightly candidate forums will help ensure that money isn't all that talks during Ohio's elections," said Catherine Turcer of Ohio Citizen Action.
The Alliance, Citizens Policy Center and a coalition of national and state civic, religious and campaign reform groups have been calling on the broadcast industry to make good on a White House panel's recommendation that each station in the country voluntarily air five minutes a night of candidate-centered discourse in the 30 nights preceding the primary and general elections in 2000.
Also committing to the candidate air time standard are Scripps stations WMAR in Baltimore, WXYZ in Detroit, KSHB in Kansas City, MO, KNXV in Phoenix, WFTS in Tampa, KJRH in Tulsa, and WPTV in West Palm Beach, FL. Other stations that have made the pledge are WRAL in Raleigh and WRAZ in Durham, NC, which are owned by Capitol Broadcasting, and WCVB in Boston, WTAE in Pittsburgh, and KCRA in Sacramento, which are owned by Hearst-Argyle.
Turcer urged WLWT in Cincinnati, which is also owned by Hearst-Argyle, to join its sister stations in committing to air nightly candidate forums in the 2000 election.
Taylor called on the rest of the broadcast industry to follow suit, saying, "If Scripps can make this pledge, there's no reason that ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox can't."
He cited CBS, in particular, for failing to commit to a standard it helped develop. "The five-minutes-a-night-for-30-nights recommendation was put forward by a panel co-chaired by CBS President Leslie Moonves. It's time for CBS to get aboard its own bandwagon."
The Alliance will be working with Ohio Citizen Action and coalitions in Ohio and 20 other states to promote the candidate air time standard. It will also be monitoring how much candidate discourse stations provide their viewers - as well as how much revenue they take from candidate ads - as part of a research project with the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southern California.
Ohio Citizen Action campaigns on issues from public health and the environment to utility and insurance rates.
The Alliance for Better Campaigns is a public interest group that promotes elections in which the most useful information reaches the greatest number of citizens in the most engaging ways. The Alliance is funded by grants from the Open Society Institute, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Ford Foundation and the Joyce Foundation.