Hearst Television renews commitment to election coverage

Hearst Television announced this week that it will once again make a major commitment of air time to political news coverage of the 2012 elections.

Done under the banner of "Commitment 2012," the extended political coverage will be undertaken by the company's 25 news-producing TV stations. Each will provide comprehensive local TV news coverage of national, state and local election campaigns on-air, online and via mobile devices.

A cornerstone feature of commitment will be "12 in 12" — a pledge of a minimum 12 minutes of airtime for daily political news and candidate-discourse coverage per weekday and, where possible, on weekends, in the 30 days leading up to the primary and general elections at each of its news stations.

This represents a 20 percent increase — some 25 additional hours for a total of 150 hours group-wide over the 30-day period — from the 10 minutes daily Hearst first pledged in 2006. Each station also will produce a virtual town hall or discussion in the 30 days leading up to the election.

The broadcast group began the biennial program in 2000. It has received a Peabody Award and multiple USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite Awards, including six group-wide honors since then for the commitment to political coverage.

Hearst Television's prior biennial Commitment projects have featured Town Hall Meetings, debates, and AdWatch, Issue Check and Truth Check segments. For Commitment 2012, the group will add:

  • "Commitment 2012 Investigates," a content initiative bringing together reporters from the Hearst station group to produce a series of reports throughout the year examining the campaign money trail and other issues important to viewers;
  • An election app to be launched in the spring that offers information and content customizable by market;
  • An exclusive partnership with PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website of the Tampa Bay Times.

"We will continue to urge major political candidates to appear on our television stations," said David Barrett, president and CEO of Hearst Television.