As part of its “Democracy 2008” initiative, the nine E.W. Scripps broadcast stations will make free primetime space available for the eventual 2008 presidential candidates.
The stations will make five minutes of airtime available to both candidates from 5 p.m.-11:35 p.m. for the 30 days prior to the general election.
“Democracy 2008 was developed in support of our responsibility as journalists and broadcasters to promote public discourse and a strong democracy," said Bill Peterson, senior vice president for the Scripps television-station group. "This initiative will concentrate on bringing individual citizens and groups of citizens into an active dialogue with candidates.”
Rather than simply filling the time with campaign ads, the networks are hoping to form a more constructive dialogue by featuring extended interviews, issue statements and responses to citizens’ inquiries during the airtime allotted for the initiative. When possible, issues of local importance will be emphasized.
Scripps will launch Democracy 2008 sections on participating station sites to coincide with the on-air initiative.
The company used a similar free-airtime policy during the 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 elections.
The participating stations are the company's six ABC-affiliated stations (WXYZ Detroit; WCPO Cincinnati; WEWS Cleveland; WFTS Tampa, Fla.; WMAR Baltimore; and KNXV Phoenix) and its three NBC-affiliated stations (WPTV West Palm Beach, Fla.; KSHB Kansas City, Mo.; and KJRH Tulsa, Okla.).