Fox Shuns Debate Restrictions

Fox, which is providing the network pool feed for the first presidential debate Thursday night, says it will not abide by extensive debate coverage restrictions.

The laundry list of do’s and don’ts for the three agreed-upon presidential debates--and one VP square-off--was drawn up by the campaigns and signed by both sides, but Fox made no such agreement.
“We are not bowing to outside pressures and will not abide by outside restrictions,” said Fox News Channel spokesman Paul Schur. “We are covering this as a news event.”
The campaigns have come under increasing criticism for the restrictions, which include no cut-aways to other candidates, no shots from the back, no audience or family cut-aways, and more.
The candidates are trying to avoid embarrassing moments like Al Gore’s deep sighs during George W. Bush’s answers, which wound up on split-screens across America in 2000.
According to a source who worked at one of the network news departemtns in 2000, the requests aren’t all that new. “The campaigns called up and asked for similar restrictions,” which the network promptly ignored, he said, “they just didn’t write them down.” 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.