DALLAS, Aug. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 ninth consecutive election cycle this fall.
The Company also announced 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 6. The Company's election coverage in 2012 may include debates, issue- and ad-watch programming, and interviews with local, state and federal candidates which will be streamed and archived on Belo websites through Election Day. Belo stations will also expand their election coverage this year by broadcasting several runs of debates and "It's Your Time" spots on their multicast channels and publishing political coverage on their enhanced smartphone and iPad apps. In 2010, Belo stations broadcast more than 162 hours of election coverage from mid-September through Election Day in November, including several 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 candidate's individual race. In 2010, 151 qualified candidates for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and state gubernatorial offices participated in "It's Your Time," receiving more than 18 hours of free airtime. Since the program's inception, Belo has provided free airtime to more than 1,000 candidates.
"Belo has a long-standing commitment to providing robust election coverage that helps create an informed electorate in the local communities we serve," said
Peter L. Diaz, Belo's president/Media Operations. The Company continues to expand its election coverage by leveraging a variety of platforms such as its station websites, apps, and through social media such as Facebook and Twitter." Since Belo's introduction of this program, other broadcast companies have joined Belo's efforts and are also voluntarily providing free airtime in their respective markets.