According to Belo Corp., 159 candidates, of 188 who were eligible, took the broadcast-station owner up on its offer of free airtime during the 2004 elections. That's up from the 104 who participated in 2002.
Belo stations in 15 markets collectively produced over 20 hours of programming in the "It's Your Time" campaign between September 21 and election day. Each candidate was given five minutes, four to tell why they should be elected and one to answer a question on an issue central to their particular race. In addition to airing the segments on its TV stations, it also ran them on its regional and local cable news channels and made them available to noncommercial stations in the market.
Since it launched the program in 1996, it has provided free airtime to at least 560 candidates, according to the company.