This year marks the ninth consecutive election cycle the group owner’s stations will provide the “It’s Your Time’ program for congressional and gubernatorial candidates. Belo also outlines its political coverage plans for this fall.
Belo Corp., which has been providing free airtime for congressional and gubernatorial candidates since 1996, today announced that it will offer the “It’s Your Time” program for the ninth consecutive election cycle this fall.
The company also announced election coverage plans: Belo’s news-producing stations will televise at least one hour of political coverage each week in the six weeks prior to the general election on Nov. 6. The company’s election coverage in 2012 may include debates, issue- and ad-watch programming, and interviews with local, state and federal candidates which will be streamed and archived on Belo websites through Election Day.
Belo stations will also expand their election coverage this year by broadcasting several runs of debates and “It’s Your Time” spots on their multicast channels and publishing political coverage on their enhanced smartphone and iPad apps. In 2010, Belo stations broadcast more than 162 hours of election coverage from mid-September through Election Day in November, including several congressional and gubernatorial debates.
Candidates participating in “It’s Your Time” each receive five minutes of free airtime — four minutes to tell viewers why they should be elected and one minute to answer a question specific to the candidate’s individual race. In 2010, 151 qualified candidates for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and state gubernatorial offices participated in “It’s Your Time,” receiving more than 18 hours of free airtime. Since the program’s inception, Belo has provided free airtime to more than 1,000 candidates.
“Belo has a long-standing commitment to providing robust election coverage that helps create an informed electorate in the local communities we serve,” said Peter L. Diaz, Belo’s president/media operations. “The company continues to expand its election coverage by leveraging a variety of platforms such as its station websites, apps, and through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.”
Since Belo’s introduction of this program, other broadcast companies have joined Belo’s efforts and are also voluntarily providing free airtime in their respective markets.
Belo’s coverage plans for the six weeks leading up to Election Day include:
- News-producing television stations in Belo markets will broadcast at least one hour of issue- or candidate-centered election coverage per week. This may include candidate interviews, live debates and issue- and ad-watch programming. Most stories will be locally produced, with assistance from Belo’s Washington, D.C.-based reporters, and will cover federal, state and local races.
- Belo websites will make the information readily available to voters in each of Belo’s markets. For example, candidate issue statements and question-and-answer sessions will be posted through Election Day, and e-town meetings will be hosted on several of Belo’s websites, while simultaneously allowing voters to express their opinions through Facebook and Twitter and gather information on relevant local issues in an online setting. Belo websites also will provide voter registration information and links to helpful voting-related sites.
- Special political sections will be launched on Belo’s smartphone and iPad apps in its 15 local markets, giving viewers immediate access to breaking news and blogs published in real time.
- Belo’s multicast channels and regional/local cable news channels will offer a variety of programming, including one-on-one candidate interviews, single-issue debates, and replays of “It’s Your Time” segments.