March 17, 2005
Belo stations in Dallas/Fort Worth and Seattle/Tacoma honored with Cronkite awards for 2004 elections political coverage
Dallas, TX -- Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) announced today that two of its television stations, WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth, and KING-TV, the NBC affiliate in Seattle/Tacoma, have been honored nationally with the 2005 USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism. WFAA won its second consecutive Cronkite award in the Local Station, Large Market category. KING reporter Robert Mak and producer Mike Cate won their second consecutive Cronkite Award for Individual Achievement, and the station's third Cronkite Award.
Robert W. Decherd, Belo's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, "We are extremely proud that two Belo stations were recognized again with Cronkite Awards for their coverage of vital local and national issues and the candidates running for election in 2004. WFAA's and KING's in-depth approach to political news coverage brought new dimensions of understanding to their communities' political discourse."
WFAA Cited for Local and National Coverage and Unique Partnership
WFAA was cited by the judging committee for "its continuing commitment to expose political issues and candidates to viewers" through its coverage of both local and national races. The station delivered this award-winning coverage even though there was neither a major senatorial or gubernatorial race in Texas in 2004 nor any visits by national Democratic leaders.
The station was recognized for its unique "Project Texas" partnership with other Belo stations in Texas, including KHOU-TV in Houston, KENS-TV in San Antonio, KVUE-TV in Austin and Texas Cable News. Through this partnership, which began in 2002, Belo stations exchanged broadcast packages, increasing understanding among viewers about how their counterparts in other Texas markets felt about the issues. Eighteen out of 21 invited candidates participated in WFAA's "It's Your Time" programming initiative, which provided free air time to candidates. The station also tracked voters' viewpoints on the candidates and issues by building stories around a diverse focus group, which met each month throughout 2004. Topics included job outsourcing, social issues such as gay marriages, and the war in Iraq. WFAA was also honored with a Cronkite Award in 2003.
KING Reporters Cited for Thorough, Balanced Coverage
KING's Robert Mak and Mike Cate were cited in this year's awards announcement for their "thorough and balanced coverage, good writing and excellent reporting and producing."
KING is the only commercial television station in the Seattle/Tacoma market to broadcast a weekly show dedicated to local political coverage. "UP FRONT with Robert Mak" has been on the air since 2002. Mak and Cate have also been instrumental in KING's daily coverage of politics. In 2004, KING demonstrated its market leadership in civic journalism by broadcasting gubernatorial, senatorial, attorney general, superintendent of public education and three congressional debates; providing live broadcasts of the Washington State Caucus; and covering issues ranging from transportation to taxes. During last year's election cycle, 18 out of 18 invited candidates participated in KING's "It's Your Time" programming, which provided free air time to candidates. In 2003 and 2001, KING was also honored with the Cronkite Award.
Awards Reflect Belo Stations' Enterprise-wide Commitment to Political Coverage
Decherd said, "These Cronkite Awards reflect the commitment by Belo stations nationwide to provide the best possible political coverage in their communities. We take our public service obligation seriously. One of the most important ways we support our communities is by exposing viewers to critical issues and solutions proposed by different local and national candidates."
In 2004, Belo's 14 news-producing stations broadcast a total of 338 hours of political coverage, or an average of one hour and 43 minutes per week per station, during the 14-week period leading up to the November 2 general election. This represented an average of 142 local and national news stories every week, ranging from coverage of debates, issues and ad-watch programming to interviews with local, state and federal candidates.
Belo's two regional cable news operations and its four local cable news channels televised an average of 176 stories weekly, representing an average of four hours and 36 minutes of political coverage each week. Eight Belo television stations posted video of local debates online.
As part of this political coverage, 159 congressional and gubernatorial candidates across the country participated in Belo's fifth consecutive "It's Your Time" program, which gave them free air time to inform voters about their candidacy. This was a 50 percent increase over the 104 candidates who participated during the 2002 election cycle. More than 20 hours of programming was devoted to these "It's Your Time" segments between September 21 and November 2. This programming was re-broadcast on Belo's two regional cable stations and several of its local cable news channels, and offered to local Public Broadcasting Service stations. Since Belo pioneered "It's Your Time" in 1996, more than 560 candidates have participated.
About the Cronkite Awards
The University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication, the Norman Lear Center and Reliable Resources for Broadcast Political Coverage honor television networks, local television stations and individuals for political coverage that informs viewers about their electoral choices and that helps them understand ballot issues, the candidates involved and how electoral choices will affect their lives. The Award is named for legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, the most decorated broadcast journalist of the past 30 years. It is designed to encourage and showcase television journalistic excellence in political coverage, particularly innovative, informative and issues-focused 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 7,600 employees and $1.5 billion in annual revenues, Belo operates media franchises in some of America's most dynamic markets and regions, including Texas, the Northwest, the Southwest, Rhode Island, and the Mid-Atlantic. Belo owns 19 television stations (six in the top 15 markets); owns or operates seven cable news channels; and manages one television station through a local marketing agreement. Belo's daily newspapers are The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) and the Denton Record-Chronicle (Denton, TX). Belo operates more than 30 Web sites, several interactive alliances and a broad range of Internet-based products. Additional information, including earnings releases and corporate communications, is available online at www.belo.com or by contacting Carey Hendrickson, vice president/Investor Relations & Corporate Communications, at 214-977-6626.