KET Changes Debate Formats

Kentucky Educational Television is changing its political coverage this year. The network will no longer broadcast traditional debates, but will instead invite candidates to appear with their opponents on the talk show Kentucky Tonight.

By bypassing formal debates, KET can also bypass equal time requirements. Spokesperson Tim Bischoff says the regulation led to a situation in 2008, when Representative Ed Whitfield refused to debate his opponent and the network was forced to air a video prepared by Whitfield’s campaign after his opponent fielded debate questions.

“We won’t be required to air a taped statement,” he says. “That candidate, if they choose not to appear within the format and with the person that they’re running against, they would not have another opportunity to be on KET,”

Bischoff says Kentucky Tonight’s format will allow for more talk between candidates and for questions from viewers.

“This will allow for there to be back and forth conversation between the candidates—which we’ve not really been able to have previously—with a more formal type of debate where candidates really are not allowed to talk to one another; they’re kept within very tight time constraints,” he says.

Candidates will appear on the following days:

  • 5th Congressional District Democrats, April 5
  • 3rd Congressional District Republicans, April 12
  • 6th Congressional District Republicans, April 26
  • Democrats for U.S. Senate, May 3
  • Republicans for U.S. Senate, May 10