August 8, 1960
OF TV DEBATES?
opposed; ABC, NBC, study advertiser bid, but Kennedy, Nixon have
meeting to work out the format and mechanics of television debates
between presidential nominees Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy
was being set up late last week, amid widespread speculation on
whether the appearances should or should not be commercially sponsored.
commercial question was more than academic. Metropolitan Life Insurance
CO. was reported authoritatively to have indicated to all three
TV networks an interest in sponsoring the precedent-making programs.
Other unidentified advertisers were said to have broached the same
network to answer was CBS. President Frank Stanton issued a statement
on Wednesday "to make it absolutely clear that CBS will not
accept commercial sponsorship for these special programs. Even though
public spirited business firms have been generous in offering to
sponsor these debates, we -- the CBS radio and television networks
and their affiliated stations -- want to make this our own contribution
because we believe there is no single act of self-government that
is more important than the quadrennial choice of our national leadership."
. ABC and NBC had no immediate comment, but indicated they were
studying the question.
appeared obvious that Vice President Nixon and Sen. Kennedy would
be able to veto, if they wished, any sponsorship decision any network
for the Democratic and Republican camps were noncommittal last week.
One Nixon aide said the vice president may express views on the
question when he returns from his Hawaiian speaking tour.
a meeting was being set tentatively for Tuesday (Aug. 9) in New
York for discussion of tv debate plans by representatives of all
three networks and of the nominees. The Tuesday date was not firm,
but it was hoped that some hour on that day would be found suitable
to all participants.
were slated to include Sig Mickelson, president of CBS News, John
Daly, news, special events and public affairs vice president
of ABC, and Lester Bernstein, corporate affairs vice president for
NBC; Leonard Reinsch of the Cox radio and TV stations, communications
consultant to Sen. Kennedy; Fred Scribner, under-secretary of the
Treasury and a member of the Nixon strategy board, Herbert G.
Klein, special assistant to Vice President Nixon, and Ted Rogers,
special television consultant to Mr. Nixon.
Due . The plan eventually involved for presentation of the debates
will require compromises in the plans suggested by some if not all
of the networks. NBC proposed four hour-long debates and four one-hour
programs in which the nominees would he questioned by newsmen on
NBC: ABC proposed a series of appearances on all three networks
on a rotation basis; CBS offered eight hours with "direct presentations"
by the nominees on the opening and closing broadcasts and discussions
and interviews with opposing presidential and vice presidential
candidates on the other programs.
has said it will not sell time for political broadcasts that are
also carried on the other networks, but spokesmen asserted last
week that this applies to paid political broadcasts and would have
no bearing on the presidential debates.
Kennedy accepted the offers of all three networks and Vice President
Nixon accepted but said he felt that the nominees should appear
without prepared texts or notes "and without interruption."
All three networks conditioned their offers on waiver of the equal-time
law insofar as the current presidential campaign is concerned.