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CAMPAIGN 2000

Gore, Bush Offered Free Hour on Fox

October 03, 2000|From a Times staff writer

News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch on Monday offered one hour of free air time on his Fox broadcast network to the two major presidential candidates, saying it would enable voters to "make a better-informed decision."

Under the offer, the network would make available one hour at 8 p.m. Oct. 27. The two candidates would each have 30 minutes to address the question--"Why should Americans vote for you?"--in any way they choose. A coin toss would determine who spoke first.

Jano Cabrera, a spokesman for Democrat Al Gore's campaign, said it was unlikely either candidate would agree to any debates aside from the three scheduled by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.

"At this point, we both agreed that these [commission debates] were going to be it," Cabrera said.

A spokeswoman for Republican George W. Bush said she didn't know whether the Texas governor would accept the offer.

In 1996, President Clinton and his rival, former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), turned down a similar offer.

Fox also will broadcast the three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate on a tape-delayed basis on its stations in 22 cities. Its cable news channel will carry the debates live.

"Broadcasters have an obligation to serve the public interest, and that is never more true than in an election year," Murdoch said.

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