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Texas Broadcasters Shine with U.S. Senate and Gubernatorial Debate Efforts

Texas broadcasters are producing several debates this fall featuring candidates running for high-profile statewide races.  U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Houston and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, agreed to three debates just under two weeks ago starting a frenetic scramble by KXAS-TV/KXTX-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth, KTRK-TV/Univision 45 Houston, and KENS-TV San Antonio, to produce the events, two of which were planned for remote locations on nearby college campuses. 

Additionally, KXAN-TV Austin and Nexstar are producing a gubernatorial debate on Sept. 28 in Austin featuring Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Austin and former Dallas Co. Sheriff Lupe Valdez.  That debate will air live on Nexstar’s Texas TV stations and a handful of major market partner stations in  sixteen Texas TV markets.

The first U.S. Senate debate took place last Friday night in Dallas on the Southern Methodist University campus.  “Not surprisingly, it was difficult to get the campaigns to agree on terms, even some of the minor details,” said Tom Ehlmann, president and general manager of KXAS.  “We had insisted on two weeks-notice but got the deal finalized one week in advance.  Thanks to our partners at the Dallas Morning News and SMU, we were able to get it done.  I am very proud of our team.”  Well-prepared panelists Julie Fine of KXAS-TV and Gromer Jeffers of the Dallas Morning News peppered Cruz and O’Rourke with a wide array of questions covering domestic policy.

NBC Universal, KXAS and KXTX’s parent company, made the debate available free of charge for use by Texas TV and Radio stations with certain market restrictions.  The debate was provided by a KXAS satellite feed to TV stations and through audio feeds to radio stations made available by the Texas State Networks and National Public Radio.

Many Texas stations turned around the feeds to stream or archive the debates on station websites.  TAB assisted the effort by disseminating feed information to Texas Radio and TV stations and by keeping a clearance list of stations airing the debate.  The next U.S. Senate debate will take place on Sept. 30 on the University of Houston campus.  The town hall style event will be moderated by KTRK-TV’s Tom Abrahams and KXLN-TV’s Marcela Pérez Barros.  It will also cover domestic policy.

KTRK and KLXN’s parent companies, Disney and Univision, will make feeds of the debate available to Texas Radio and TV stations for use with certain market restrictions.  TAB expects to issue a feed advisory to station general managers and news directors by Wednesday.  KENS-TV San Antonio has the final U.S. Senate debate.  It will take place at the KENS studios on Oct. 16.

Station staff have indicated that TEGNA, KENS-TV’s parent company, will make the debate available to other stations for use, but certain market restrictions will exist.  TAB will assist by disseminating feed information when it becomes available.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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