MacNeil/Lehrer Productions (MLP), producers of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, will launch more than 50 hours of special election year programming for PBS's Democracy Project beginning, in January of 1996, with both live and taped coverage of The National Issues Convention in Austin, Texas.
The announcement was made by Al Vecchione, president of MLP, who called the projected coverage the most comprehensive in The NewsHour's 20-year history. He said, "This programming plan represents an all-out effort to fully engage and inform the American television audience about the candidates, the parties and the issues. What it all adds up to is a commitment that is totally consistent with the public broadcasting mission."
Other election-related programs throughout the year will include:
Coverage of Key Primary Nights - four, one-hour primary night broadcasts that include interviews with the candidates and discussions with NewsHour analysts; and,
Republican and Democratic Conventions - comprehensive joint coverage by PBS and NBC of the major parties' political conventions with commentary and analysis led by Lehrer and Tom Brokaw.
The National Issues Convention
The National Issues Convention - an unprecedented experiment in American democracy - will air as a three-part special on PBS in January of 1996 and will be moderated by Jim Lehrer of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Six hundred delegates, selected at random from 100 communities to represent the nation's population,will gather at the University of Texas in Austin for two days to discuss key issues facing the nation. 1996 presidential candidates and the country's foremost experts in areas relating to the family,international affairs and the economy have been invited to participate in the Convention. A detailed poll will measure the delegates' views both before and after they have had the opportunity to learn about the issues and to discuss them with other delegates and the participating candidates and specialists.
The first two programs, on Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21, will originate live from the Convention. They will feature discussions relating to the questions and issues raised from the sample of voters attending. The third broadcast, on Friday, January 26, will chronicle the events of the Convention and include analysis and reporting segments that reach beyond the Austin weekend.
Character Above All
This 60-minute MacNeil/Lehrer Productions election year special examines the impact of character on the leadership of the ten presidents who served the nation from 1932 to 1992. On the program,host and moderator Jim Lehrer will be joined by the following historians, biographers and journalists who have a particular perspective and insight into the life of the president indicated:
Together these historians, biographers and journalists will discuss character attributes which contribute to - and detract from -presidential leadership, and the creation of trust between the president and the people.
Primary Night Broadcasts
Four, one-hour specials covering key primary nights will be hosted by Jim Lehrer, who will be joined by other NewsHour correspondents to report the evolving story: New Hampshire (Feb. 20); "Super Tuesday" (Mar. 12); the "Big Ten" (Mar. 19); and California (Mar. 26). Program elements will include interviews with candidates; live feeds from candidates' hotels in primary states; and discussion segments with NewsHour analysts,editors and others.
PBS and NBC Reunite for Republican and Democratic Conventions
The NewsHour will repeat its historic and highly successful 1992 collaboration with NBC to provide comprehensive coverage of the major party political conventions on PBS: The Republican Convention in San Diego the week of August 12, 1996 and The Democratic Convention in Chicago the week of August 26, 1996.
During the convention, The NewsHour will broadcast at its usual time from the convention cities. Then, at 8:00 p.m. ET,The NewsHour and NBC News will begin their joint broadcast on PBS, alternating segments led by Jim Lehrer for PBS and Tom Brokaw for NBC.
The programs will combine coverage of major convention events with in-depth reporting and analysis to give viewers a comprehensive look at the candidates, the parties, and the issues. At approximately 10:00 p.m. ET, the two organizations will separate, each providing coverage to its own network for the remainder of the evening. Editorial themes for each night's broadcast of the PBS/NBC collaboration will be designed to provide added dimension to all aspects of the conventions.
Election Night Coverage
A five-hour broadcast starting at 8 p.m. and running until 1 a.m.,The NewsHour election night broadcast, anchored by Jim Lehrer, will bring together the entire range of staff and PBS station correspondents, political analysts and panels of regional editors, essayists and historians - all who will have been part of the regular NewsHour coverage throughout the campaign- to interpret the election night results. Their reports will be blended with news of election returns, campaign headquarters activity, and newsmaker interviews from locations throughout the country.
In addition, regular editions of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer will be devoted to the people and issues influencing the 1996 election.