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The Texas Debates: About

Since 1988, KERA's project, The Texas Debates, has delivered a vital public service offering live, primetime debates for distribution by all broadcasters free of charge.

Criteria for Candidate Participation in KERA Broadcast Debates

KERA's mission is to serve our communities through public television, radio and multimedia resources that educate, inspire, enrich, inform and entertain. 

KERA 13 and KERA 90.1 have a highly respected tradition of solid news and public affairs programming that focuses on a commitment to help viewers and listeners make informed decisions.

In accordance with PBS' Programming Policy Statement, KERA maintains public trust in its editorial integrity by shielding the programming process from improper political pressure or influence from program funders or other sources. Editorial integrity is based on the journalistic principles of fairness, objectivity, balance and community needs.

KERA - in cooperation with other debate sponsors - consistently has provided national and statewide debates as part of its election coverage for more than 20 years. To determine guidelines for debates, KERA believes it is important to establish viewpoint neutral criteria for candidate inclusion. These are rooted in principles of editorial integrity and judgment.

Here are the criteria that editorial staff will consider in making decisions about candidate inclusion:

1. A candidate must have met all legal qualifications required by the State of Texas to appear on the ballot and be eligible for office.

2. A candidate must be actively campaigning for election in the jurisdiction he or she is seeking to represent. To meet the definition of an active campaign, a candidate would need to establish a campaign headquarters with a paid and/or volunteer staff; generate public interest, such as being invited to speak at public gatherings and obtaining monetary contributions; and have a campaign that would be sufficiently newsworthy to warrant coverage by the media.

3. Polls are a measure of voter interest. If a candidate consistently receives a minimum of a 10 percent rating in established, nonpartisan polls, the candidate will be presumed to be newsworthy. Voter interest may also be measured by the percentage of votes cast for a candidate in a previous election, and so a candidate would have to receive a minimum of 10 percent of votes in a previous election for the same office or a comparable office.

In all cases, KERA and the other sponsors will require a candidate to meet the legal requirements for eligibility for office imposed by the State of Texas to be included in a debate. For candidates who satisfy this eligibility standard, KERA will consider the candidates' campaign activity and established, nonpartisan polling data to make a viewpoint neutral editorial judgment of the candidate's newsworthiness.

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