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Four Texas races offered in bilingual 'Texas Debates'

By KERA staff

Dallas, TX – Four of the most anticipated races in Texas will be broadcast statewide to millions of Texans on Oct. 23 and 24 as the "Texas Debates" airs on dozens of radio and television stations in English and Spanish.

The debates will include the leading candidates in the races for Texas governor, the U.S. Senate, Texas lieutenant governor and Texas attorney general. The Oct. 24 broadcast will be the final televised debate between gubernatorial candidates Rick Perry and Tony Sanchez.

Media organizations from across Texas have partnered to sponsor the four debates, which will reach every corner of the state on commercial and public radio and television stations. Though the debates will be conducted in English, their reach will be further extended through real-time Spanish translations and delivered via satellite as a public service to all Texas media interested in broadcasting the debates.

In March, the same consortium partners produced and aired a series of debates featuring the historic first-ever Spanish-language debate between Texas gubernatorial candidates. More than 70 English- and Spanish-language television and stations in Texas aired the debates, either live or taped.

Candidates who have already confirmed their participation include gubernatorial candidates: Republican candidate and incumbent Gov. Rick Perry and Democratic challenger Tony Sanchez; U.S. Senate candidates: Republican John Cornyn and Democrat Ron Kirk; Texas lieutenant governor candidates: Republican David Dewhurst and Democrat John Sharp; and Texas attorney general candidates: Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Kirk Watson. The debate schedule is as follows:

Oct. 23, 7 p.m. - one-hour debate: U.S. Senate candidates Kirk and Cornyn
Oct. 24, 7 p.m. - one-hour debate: gubernatorial candidates Perry and Sanchez
Oct. 24, 8 p.m. - half-hour debate: lieutenant governor candidates Dewhurst and Sharp
Oct. 24, 8:30 p.m. - half-hour debate: attorney general candidates Abbott and Watson

Producers of the debates have yet to determine whether they'll invite third-party candidates to participate. Additional candidates would be invited based on established debate criteria, which include the activity level of a candidate's campaign and level of public support.

Under a debate format agreed upon by the participating candidates, candidates will be seated in all four debates and each debate will feature a moderator and a panel of journalists. Moderators and panelists include the following:

U.S. Senate
Moderator: John McCaa, WFAA-TV
Panelists: Jaime Ruiz, Univision; Christy Hoppe, The Dallas Morning News; Wayne Slater, The Dallas Morning News

Texas Governor
Moderator: Sam Baker, KERA
Panelists: Shelley Kofler, WFAA-TV; Paul Burka, Texas Monthly; Wayne Slater, The Dallas Morning News

Lt. Gov. /Atty. General
Moderator: Marla Crockett, KERA
Panelists: Alexis Brito, Univision; Evan Smith, Texas Monthly

The "Texas Debates" will originate from the KERA 13 studios in Dallas. Debate co-sponsors are: Texas Monthly, The Dallas Morning News, the Texas Association of Broadcasters, WFAA-TV (Channel 8), Univision affiliate KUVN, Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation, the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, Belo Interactive (BI), Texas Cable News (TXCN/Channel 38), KERA 13 and KERA 90.1.

The "Texas Debates" website will offer live audio streaming of the debates and an email link for the public to submit questions for candidates prior to the debate. Selected questions will be read live during the debates.

KERA, which includes KERA 13, KERA 2 and KERA 90.1, is committed to providing in-depth coverage of the issues of importance to North Texans. The stations serve the largest geographic area of any public broadcaster nationwide, and KERA 13 is the most-watched public television station in the country. The station's award-winning programs have earned local, regional and national awards, including 2001 Katie Awards for radio and television coverage of the 2000 Presidential election. In March, KERA co-produced and hosted the "Texas Debates," featuring the historic first-ever Spanish-language debate between Texas gubernatorial candidates. More than 70 English- and Spanish-language television and stations in Texas aired the debates, either live or taped.

Belo is one of the nation's largest media companies with a diversified group of market-leading television, newspaper, cable and interactive media assets. A Fortune 1000 company with approximately 7,800 employees and $1.4 billion in annual revenues, Belo operates news and information franchises in some of America's most dynamic markets and regions, including Texas, the Northwest, the Southwest, Rhode Island, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Belo owns 19 television stations (six in the top 16 markets) reaching 13.9 percent of U.S. television households; owns or operates six cable news channels; and manages one television station through a local marketing agreement. Belo publishes four daily newspapers: The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) and the Denton Record-Chronicle (Denton, TX). Belo Interactive's new media businesses include 34 Web sites, several interactive alliances, and a broad range of Internet-based products.

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is a nonprofit resource that encourages, sponsors and facilitates a greater appreciation, knowledge and understanding of the First Amendment. Working since 1978 to ensure that the public's business is conducted in public, the FOIF's mission is to protect and preserve the state's open meetings and open records laws.

Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation, the largest Spanish-language radio broadcaster in the United States, currently owns and operates 55 radio stations in 14 of the top 20 Hispanic markets. In June of this year, the company entered into a definitive merger agreement with Univision Communications; the pending merger is expected to close around year-end. The company also owns and operates a network of Hispanic community-focused bilingual Web sites found at

KUVN-TV is owned and operated by Univision Communications, Inc. (NYSE: UVN), the nation's leading Spanish-language media company in the United States. The Company'' operations include: Univision Network, which reaches 95 percent of U.S. Hispanic households through its owned-and-operated stations, 32 broadcast affiliates and 1,164 cable affiliates nationwide, and is the most-watched Spanish-language television network in the U.S. and the fifth largest network overall; and Univision Television Group, which owns and operates 15 full-power and 7 low-power television stations, including full-power stations in 11 of the top 15 U.S. Hispanic markets.

The Texas Association of Broadcasters (TAB) is the largest state broadcast association in the country. TAB is a non-profit, professional trade organization representing the interests of Texas' 1000+ radio and television stations before state and federal lawmakers and regulatory agencies. TAB provides its member stations legal hotlines for business, advertising and newsroom issues; employee recruitment services; legal guidebooks on broadcast issues; and, statewide and regional training programs for sales, newsroom and management staff. TAB and the broadcasters of Texas believe that keeping the public informed is one of the most important components of public service we can provide the citizens of our state.

Texas Monthly is in its 30th year of publication, has a circulation of 300,000, and is read by more than 2 million people each month - one out of seven Texas adults. Texas Monthly is published by Texas Monthly, Inc., which is owned by Emmis Communications Corporation. Emmis, based in Indianapolis, owns and operates television and radio stations in the United States and owns other regional magazines.

Audio and video feeds of the debate will be made available at KERA's studios to members of the media on a first-come/first-served basis. Media members should plan to arrive at KERA for set-up no later than 5:30 p.m. Media will be able to watch the debate live from a pressroom, but will NOT be allowed to be present in the studio DURING the debate. B-roll of behind-the-scenes debate preparation will be fed to the pressroom from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Media will also have an opportunity to interview candidates after the debate concludes. Media with special technical needs should call Jerry Johnson at (214) 740-9216.

Press contacts: Diane Hebert-Farrell, (781) 641-4516 or Jerry Johnson, (214) 740-9216