Election 2002

In 2000, USA Talk Network ("USA-TN") and Colorado Public Television KBDI/TV-12 ("CPT") teamed up to develop and implement a non-partisan project to begin the process of changing the relationship between television and politics in America. With the specific objective of mitigating the current domination of paid 30-second advertisement "spots" on television, USA-TN and CPT developed a historic 13 hours of programming dedicated to the 2000 General Election.

The series was broadcast in Prime Time and gave voters the opportunity to see candidates and ballot issue spokespersons (both proponents and opponents) in unrehearsed settings, arguing their positions and answering tough questions. The response was overwhelming positive and showed television could be used to (a) honestly inform the public in a detailed manner and (b) blunt the effect of paid television advertising (i.e., commercial, political spots).

"Election 2000" was supported by The Denver Post, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Johnson Communities (a national homebuilder), among many others. Through The Denver Post, programs were offered to the electorate via the Internet on a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week basis.

One of the key principles of the effort was to develop a non-coercive, non-governmental, non-partisan approach to changing American politics. The Project avoided any element which had a "must carry" requirement or which imposed a program or time quota on any station. Instead, it utilized the principle that public broadcasting stations have unique relationships with their individual communities, broadcast only in their local communities (i.e., unlike national networks which provide the same program to all recipients across the country), and are perceived by the public as having a non-partisan, educational role. The 2000 effort was Stage I of the process.

The next step in the process (Stage II) is to use the 2000 experiment as a national model for 2002. The purposes of Stage II are to create "Election 2002" to...

(1) Evaluate the 2000 experiment and determine needed improvements, especially as they relate to other stations and media markets, so the model can be refined and improved.

(2) Research the most effective way of promoting the model and developing a strategy for conveying the model to the 300 Public Broadcasting Service stations across the country which can uniquely provide local access to almost all American voters.

(3) Integrate other efforts into the model (e.g., Project VoteSmart, Ballo™aker, Alliance for Better Campaigns, The Democracy Project and its successor, et cetera).

(4) Develop a set of materials, videos, and in-person presentations which could be the basis for other stations adopting the model.

(5) Provide those materials and on-site training to as many stations as possible (preferably by 31 August 2002).

(6) Create ways to measure the effectiveness of the Project.

(7) Perfect the model for deployment in the next election cycle (2004).

(8) Hand it over to established station groups and/or one or more national entities.

The goal for "Election 2002" is to have two-way communication in Calendar Year 2002 with approximately 90% of the public broadcasting stations, with the expectation that up to 10% will adopt in 2002 some form of programming similar to the prototype refined for "Election 2002."

The goal for "Election 2004" will be to increase that participation rate to more than 25%. Eventually, it is hoped a majority of public broadcasting stations will participate in some form of programming similar to the "Election 2002" and the "Election 2004" models. It is anticipated that the effort would end in 2004.

To begin the process for "Election 2002," Colorado Public Televison and USA Talk Network have agreed to almost double their Prime Time programming commitment to the project from 13 hours in 2000 to as many as 25 hours in 2002. For more information about "Election 2002," please contact Aaron Harber via the following e-mail address: Aaron@HarberTV.com.

Thank you for your interest in "Election 2002."

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