April 16, 2004
Belo offers free airtime to candidates for fifth consecutive elections cycle, expands 2004 political coverage
DALLAS -- Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC), which in 1996 became the first commercial television station group to provide free airtime for congressional and gubernatorial candidates, announced that it will offer the "It's Your Time" program for the fifth consecutive election cycle this fall.
The Company also announced increased election coverage plans, stating that 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 November 2. The Company's expanded election coverage in 2004 will include debates, issue- and ad-watch programming, and interviews with local, state and federal candidates. In 2002, Belo stations sponsored 30 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 candidates individual race. In 2002, 104 qualified candidates for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and state gubernatorial offices participated in "It's Your Time." Since the program's inception, Belo has provided free airtime to more than 400 candidates.
"Belo took this groundbreaking step eight years ago to ensure that we were doing all we could to create an informed electorate in the communities we serve. Belo's voluntary effort achieves the goals of providing robust debate and increasing viewer knowledge without a government mandate," said Robert W. Decherd, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Since Belo's introduction of this unprecedented program, other broadcast companies have joined Belo's efforts and are providing free airtime in their respective markets."
Belo's coverage plans for the six weeks prior to the election include:
* News-producing television stations in Belo markets will broadcast an hour of issue- or candidate-centered election coverage per week. This will include candidate interviews, live debates, and issue- and ad-watch programming. Most stories will be locally produced and will cover federal, state and local races.
* Belo Interactive Web sites will post candidate issue statements and question-and-answer sessions. E-town meetings will also be hosted on several of Belo's Web sites, allowing voters to express their opinions and gather information on relevant local issues in an online setting. Belo Interactive sites also will provide voter registration information and links to helpful voting-related sites.
* Belo's regional and 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 and Belo election coverage.
Belo Corp. is one of the nation's largest media companies with a diversified group of market-leading television, newspaper, cable and interactive media assets. A Fortune 1000 company with approximately 7,900 employees and $1.4 billion in annual revenues, Belo operates news and information franchises in some of Americas most dynamic markets and regions, including Texas, the Northwest, the Southwest, Rhode Island, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Belo owns 19 television stations (six in the top 15 markets) reaching 13.8 percent of U.S. television households; owns or operates 10 cable news channels; and manages one television station through a local marketing agreement. Belos daily newspapers include The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) and the Denton Record-Chronicle (Denton, TX). Belo Interactive's new media businesses include more than 30 Web sites, several interactive alliances, and a broad range of Internet-based products. Additional information, including earnings releases, is available online at www.belo.com. For more information, contact Scott Baradell, vice president/Corporate Communications, at 214-977-2067.