Networks announce plans for free candidate airtime
ROUNDUP–Following a late February announcement by the Fox network that it would offer free television time to the major presidential candidates, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS and CNN in early May offered their own plans for free time.
NBC will invite candidates “to address viewers directly” during broadcasts of “Dateline” and the “NBC Nightly News”. The candidates would also be invited to appear and answer questions on the NBC News morning show “Today,” and the Sunday interview program, “Meet the Press”.
CBS said it would give candidates free time in regular newscasts to address the issues of greatest concern to its viewers as identified by network polls. CBS made the proposal in a letter to Paul Taylor, a former Washington Post reporter who has been lobbying the networks to give the presidential candidates a few minutes of prime-time every night throughout the last month of the campaign.
ABC will broadcast in the campaign’s final week an “unstructured” one-hour prime-time special “with the candidates appearing without interruptions or questions from any third party.”
PBS said it would offer the candidates regular, prime-time opportunities to speak directly to the public, but has not yet worked out the details of its plan.
CNN will offer the major presidential candidates five minutes of time each week during its “Inside Politics” program, which airs at 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., for the four weeks leading up to the election. CNN will also offer the vice-presidential candidates one such time slot apiece.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the company that owns the Fox television network, announced in late February that in the weeks leading up to the election, Fox will offer the major presidential candidates ten one-minute position statements to be broadcast during breaks in prime-time programs, as well as one hour of prime-time on election eve, free of editorial interference and free of charge.