Reviewed and adopted by CWC Board: June 21, 2006
Reviewed and Endorsed by WPTV Advisory Council: April 28, 2006
Reviewed and approved by WPTV Management: April 28, 2006
Wyoming Public Television (WPTV) recognizes that a democracy relies upon its citizens to be informed and engaged regarding our national, state and local governments, political leaders, and public policy. Therefore, WPTV regularly presents political news coverage, candidate debates and public forums as part of its mission to educate and inform Wyoming citizens.
This policy serves as a guideline for WPTV to produce programs that fulfill this mission in a manner that best serves the citizens of Wyoming; this policy shall be made available to the public through the station's public file and posted on the station website, to advise candidates or any other interested party of WPTV's political programming commitments and guidelines.
WPTV wishes to provide the broadest possible range of ideas, issues and exposure to candidates, given limited station resources, while at the same time providing the most meaningful information on the best distribution platform. This may involve a range of activity, partnerships, formats, and selection from a variety of media or media platforms. WPTV management and its producers shall make these decisions based upon this policy, station resources, partners and mission.
WPTV shall follow all rules and regulations as mandated by the Federal Communications Commission pertaining to political coverage and programming, including "equal time" requirements, and in addition shall abide by all rulings on these matters emanating from the Supreme Court, or other Courts of the United States.
Federal law and FCC administrative rules establish that broadcasters enjoy wide latitude in the exercise of editorial discretion, even in the case of sponsored political debates. The Supreme Court recently held that television and radio broadcasters may exclude candidates of limited appeal in their election debates so long as reasons for the exclusion are reasonable, the viewpoint is neutral, and the decision held to be the station's adopted policy. Arkansas Educational Television Commission vs. Forbes, 118 S. Ct. at 1640. While WPTV acknowledges this ruling, and the fact that the station has the authority to exclude a candidate of "limited appeal", it shall be WPTV policy to be inclusive rather than exclusive in inviting candidates to debate (see "Selection of Candidates" criteria below).
SELECTION OF DEBATES:
WPTV's main objective is to inform voters in a responsible manner. However, given limited station resources-financial, managerial, technical, and available airtime-the station must determine which specific contested races are a worthwhile use of those resources. WPTV provides a statewide service, and as a general rule, WPTV will not present city or county level debates or candidate forums. WPTV management and producers shall, at their sole discretion, make decisions as to the specific statewide races that WPTV will produce and broadcast either in debate or other political programming venues.
SELECTION OF CANDIDATES:
For purposes of political programming and election content to be produced by WPTV, the only absolute requirement to include a candidate is that a candidate must be legally qualified and must be certified by the Wyoming Secretary of State to appear on the statewide ballot for the office. While WPTV recognizes that it has the latitude to exclude candidates based upon criteria that would demonstrate statewide campaign efforts, it shall be WPTV policy to include all qualified candidates who will appear on a statewide ballot.
CONTENT OF DEBATES - PARTNERS:
When WPTV is the sole producer of a political debate or other political forum, this policy, and decisions made by WPTV management and producers, shall determine the content and format of all debates or other political programming.
When WPTV makes the decision to collaborate or partner with one or more organizations, all partners will agree to abide by this policy to produce programming of the highest quality. Representatives of partner organizations may become advisors in the development of the actual format, dates, or procedures of the debate or political programming; however, WPTV will maintain editorial control of the programming or content which is the result of the partnership. WPTV and the partners will develop an agreement outlining the duties and responsibilities of the partners, as well as the distribution rights pertaining to the content. In general, and unless otherwise provided in the agreement, WPTV shall be the sole copyright owner of the political debate or programming.
RIGHTS TO THE CONTENT - DIGITAL & DISTRIBUTION (PARTNERS & CANDIDATES):
WPTV owns all rights to any political programming produced by the station, which includes all digital rights, broadcast, streaming, and reproduction rights, of all the materials created.
Any partnership agreement developed between WPTV and other organizations regarding political coverage or programming shall abide by this policy, except that WPTV may agree to share content with partners, specifying what content shall be distributed, and in what manner.
Candidates will be provided one copy of the content produced by WPTV, and candidates are specifically restricted from further distribution of any of the footage or material, other than to show or present the material in its entirety, with proper credit given to WPTV or its partners at that showing. Any other use or distribution by candidates or others on behalf of candidates is specifically prohibited (i.e., excerpting for promotional spots, broadcast, webcast, podcast, or any other means of distribution now known or hereafter developed).
DEBATES OR OTHER POLITICAL PROGRAMMING FROM OTHER NEWS MEDIA OR SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS:
In the public interest, WPTV may consider broadcasting debates or other political programming produced by outside news media or other sponsoring organizations. WPTV, at the sole discretion of WPTV management, shall decide whether the debate or forum meets the mission of WPTV and should be broadcast on WPTV, whether it constitutes a newsworthy event, whether the event meets the criteria for fairness and whether it is of sufficient technical quality to meet WPTV broadcast guidelines.
This policy shall be reviewed by WPTV management on a periodic basis to ensure that this policy remains relevant and follows current law. When necessary, WPTV management may modify this policy and resubmit for approval and adoption by the licensee's Board of Trustees.
This policy in no way limits or restricts the kind or amount of political programming, candidate debates, forums or news events that WPTV may decide to produce or cover, other than as specifically outlined in this policy. WPTV may select other media platforms to distribute political programming or debates, (i.e., additional digital channel coverage, websites, datacasting, podcasting), and may determine to distribute political programming to other media (C-SPAN, etc.) at WPTV's discretion.