WVPB's New Debate Policy


The governing board of West Virginia Public Broadcasting has approved a policy to determine which candidates will be included in future debates.

The policy comes after the 2014 election season, when West Virginia Public Broadcasting co-sponsored a U.S. Senate debate that invited only the Democratic and Republican candidates. WVPB later sponsored a second debate that invited all five candidates on the ballot, but the leading candidate, Republican Shelley Moore Capito, did not attend.

The Educational Broadcasting Authority voted unanimously to approve the new policy, which says that candidates need reach 5 percent or more in an independent poll before being invited to a debate; and/or that candidate’s party must achieve 5% of votes for the same office in the preceding election.

The goal is to make sure WVPB has the time to go in-depth during the debates, and get more complete answers from the candidates most likely to win election.

WVPB remains committed to covering all registered candidates for races and making sure their ideas and voices are heard through other avenues.

Below is the entire policy, as passed:

WVPB Candidate Inclusion Rules and Selection of Races to Cover

Consistent with FCC regulations and Supreme Court rulings, we have adopted specific standards for candidate inclusion in a debate. Under our practices, candidates must:

1. Register as a candidate and have their name on the official ballot

2. Actively campaign through personal appearances, policy papers, and media releases

3. Actively raise money and submit campaign finance reports to the state

4. Achieve a polling standing of 5% or more in independent media polls, and/or

5. Candidate’s party must achieve 5% of votes for the same office in the preceding election

Our goal is to have debates that allow for in-depth answers among the candidates most likely to take office. These standards have been intentionally made less stringent than the Supreme Court has ruled acceptable.

We will cover competitive US Senate and House races, state constitutional offices, ballot issues, and a few key races likely to swing control of the State Senate or House of Delegates.

We do not generally cover races where the polls predict a lopsided result. These are decisions based on limited station resources and airtime.