If you were to ask someone to name three words that are most associated with the ideals of the United States of America, there’s probably a 100% chance that one of them will be “freedom”. We live in a world where that word – and concept – are both in danger of losing significance due to it being used to advance a political agenda.
That’s why it’s so important to demonstrate how much power the word “free” has, and why such a simple concept is so important to our national mindset.
It’s for this very reason that our free, over-the-air television station groups such as Dispatch, Hearst, Post-Newsweek and Scripps are donating significant amounts of free airtime to qualified candidates during the election season.
This effort goes beyond a fiduciary cost of doing business. The station groups are elevating their role in society to serve their communities as only they can - by providing the high-visibility platform of televised Town Halls, Debates and other local programming for the free discussion of the issues for any candidate who takes them up on the offer.
Clearly, there’s been a substantial amount of discussion about Super PAC money and its influence upon the political campaigns this year. But this is no knee-jerk reaction to the recent availability of Super PAC money, as most stations have participated in these programs for years, going back to 2000.
Above and beyond the free political airtime, stations are also enlisting their multimedia capabilities, resources, and partnerships to give the voting audience as much unbiased information as they can provide. Among these resources:
What also shouldn’t be lost in this thicket of political discourse is that this is all being done by the local television broadcasters who provide free over-the-air television to all Americans. This isn’t news and information that you pay for via a subscription. What they are providing is political information, not infotainment.
The bottom line is that the station groups are using their on-air and online media assets, not for the betterment of their own bottom line, but for the protection of one of our most basic freedoms - information.
In today’s connected landscape, without free over-the-air TV - and its commitment to a shared participation in our society - our democracy would be considerably less free.