NBC Universal Oct. 6, 2004 PRESS RELEASE


Allison L Gollust



NBC News president Neal Shapiro announced today wide-ranging plans for political coverage across all NBC News platforms leading up to Election Day.  In addition to programming across the many platforms of NBC Universal (including NBC News, MSNBC, MSNBC.com, CNBC, WNBC, Telemundo/WNJU, NBC Mobile, NBC News Radio, and the owned and operated stations of NBC), much of NBC News' political coverage of "Decision 2004" will be set against the backdrop of "Democracy Plaza" at Rockefeller Center in New York City -- an interactive exhibition focused on the history of democracy. 

"Democracy Plaza" was conceived by NBC, will be produced by Tishman Speyer Properties and sponsored by Bank of America.  A variety of NBC News programs will use "Democracy Plaza" as a broadcast location in the two weeks before Election Day.

"Our goal is to continue the tradition of NBC News' commitment to quality journalism in our reporting of politics and elections, providing coverage across the wide-ranging platforms of NBC News," Shapiro said.  "Special features, like our 'Making Your Vote Count' initiative, will highlight the one issue that we can all agree on in this election:  that every single vote should count.  In addition, our network's commitment to what is at the center of all of this -- the right to vote -- sets the stage for what will be an unprecedented night of coverage on November 2."

Following are specifics of many of the aspects of NBC News' plans through Election Night.  Please note that more information about NBC News' plans for Election Night specifically, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Conceived by NBC and sponsored by Bank of America, "Democracy Plaza" is a celebration of American democracy and citizenship.  The exhibition includes historical artifacts, photo and video displays, and themed elements that speak to America's unique tradition of citizenship, democracy and election politics. It will be open to the public ? free -- and involve all the public spaces of Rockefeller Center beginning on October 20 and ending on November 5. (Please see companion press release for more information about "Democracy Plaza.")

Highlights of the "Democracy Plaza" exhibition include:  an original signed Declaration of Independence, extensive photo exhibits, mementos and historical artifacts from five noteworthy presidential elections; a Teddy Roosevelt "whistle-stop" era replica railroad car; examples of many voting-booth technologies now used in the United States, including the infamous "chad" voting booth used in Florida; replica of the Oval Office; replica of an Air Force One fuselage; a video presentation focusing on the Presidential elections since 1960 -- drawing from the broadcast archives of NBC -- and great moments from televised Presidential debates, election night coverage and notable excerpts from inaugural addresses; interactive exhibits promoting voter registration and other takeaway value for citizens; and a Scholastic "Democracy for Kids" pavilion, produced by the children's publishing, education and media company, with activities and displays geared to children K-12.

Many of NBC News' programs -- including "Today," "NBC Nightly News," "Meet the Press," "Weekend Today," and MSNBC's "Hardball," -- as well as WNBC, NBC's flagship station in New York City, will broadcast live from "Democracy Plaza" in the weeks and days leading up to Election Night.  On November 2, "Democracy Plaza" will serve as home base to the networks of NBC News, as each covers Election Night in its own way. 

NBC's programming in the weeks leading up to November 2 will also include a special broadcast for children, anchored by Brian Williams in conjunction with "Democracy Plaza" education partner Scholastic, which will air on the Saturday before the election.

MSNBC will originate from its outdoor location in "Democracy Plaza" at Rockefeller Center in the days leading up to the election on November 2.  Building on the success and momentum of its live coverage during the national conventions and the presidential debates, MSNBC's lead election anchor Chris Matthews will be joined by a live crowd and his "Hardball" election team of analysts and contributors including MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan, NBC News' Andrea Mitchell and Newsweek's Jon Meacham, among others.

CNBC's "Capital Report" will originate live (7:00 ? 8:00 p.m., ET) from "Democracy Plaza" from November 1-3.

From October 25-November 3, Telemundo's "Noticiero Telemundo" (6:30 p.m. ET/PT) will originate from "Democracy Plaza."  Pedro Sevcec will anchor the broadcast live each evening.  Telemundo will also provide extensive coverage on the network and its local station in New York, WNJU, on opening day of "Democracy Plaza," October 20.

WNBC will report extensively from "Democracy Plaza" beginning with the launch on October 20 and continuing throughout the buildup to Election Night.  The station will use "Democracy Plaza" as a backdrop for numerous live and taped reports, when appropriate, and will anchor all of its newscasts ? "Today in New York," "Live at Five," and "NewsChannel 4 at 6 & 11 p.m." -- from its "Democracy Plaza" anchor desk two days before the election and on Election Day itself.

Beginning Thursday, October 7 on www.MSNBC.com, there will be a special "Democracy Plaza" section that will include information about, and images of, the exhibition, a schedule of events at "Democracy Plaza" and video events that will take place during the two weeks of the exhibition.  In addition, MSNBC.com will present an "Images of Democracy" slide show, in conjunction with a request for essays about the images, of which the best will be chosen and posted on the Web.  There will also be MSNBC.com computer kiosks located in a special "Making Your Vote Count" booth at "Democracy Plaza," which will provide opportunities for voter registration, and information about different voting machines.  A staffed desk accompanying the kiosks will help visitors with questions about voting or those needing help registering to vote.

Given the controversies that surrounded the vote count in Florida and elsewhere in 2000 and the dramatic increases in recent voter registration, one of the centerpieces of NBC News' "Decision 2004" political coverage will be "Making Your Vote Count."  This includes on-going reporting from now through Election Day about whether voter procedures and facilities in every state are ready for Election Night.  Led by NBC News' Chip Reid and a team of researchers, reports are airing on MSNBC, "Today," and "NBC Nightly News," MSNBC.com and on the NBC stations.

In addition, NBC will exclusively broadcast the analysis from a nationwide toll free voter alert line that will allow voters to quickly report voting problems to election officials anywhere in the country. 

Voters throughout the country will be able to call the MYVOTE1 Voter Alert Line (1-866-MYVOTE1) and report irregularities at their local polling location.  The alert will automatically patch callers to their local election offices as well as give voters an opportunity to record a brief description (in either English or Spanish) for NBC News of the problems they are facing.  Voters who call the MYVOTE1 Voter Alert Line will also be able to receive information about their local polling location.

Infovoter Technologies -- a bipartisan joint venture representing VoterLink Data Systems and Chesapeake Enterprises -- will manage the voter contact technology along with a team of bipartisan analysts at the National Constitution Center, located on historic Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Pa. 

The team of analysts will be assisted by graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania Fels' School of Government and will examine the volume and the location of the calls and will analyze the content of individual calls for insight into local, regional or nationwide voting problems.  NBC News' Natalie Morales will report on the issue from the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, with additional coverage from locations around the country.

The Voter Alert Line is funded by a range of non-partisan organizations and academic institutions including:  The Common Cause Education Fund, The University of Pennsylvania Fels' School of Government, The Reform Institute, and The Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University.

The "Making Your Vote Count" site on MSNBC.com (<http://vote.msnbc.com/>) will highlight reporting from all the NBC News programs, as well as provide voter registration information and sign up, voter technology interactive applications and the latest headlines on voting issues.  On Election Day, MSNBC.com will show data collected through the Voter Alert Line, displaying "hot spots" with a high volume of calls reporting voting problems.  Users will be able to view information on national, state and congressional district levels.

In addition to its comprehensive election coverage, the networks of NBC News have committed time and resources to providing candidate-centered discourse leading up to Election Day on all its platforms.

"NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw," is devoting considerable time to "The Truth Squad," segments in which Brian Williams and Lisa Myers analyze candidate discourse for accuracy and context.  Other on-going "Nightly News" political coverage includes "The Message," in which candidates speak in their own words, "Assignment America," where Brian Williams reports from the battleground states on what issues matter most to voters and "Divided We Stand," a look at two different perspectives on major political issues facing voters today.  Tim Russert will provide his perspective and analysis on "NBC Nightly News" and "Today" throughout the course of  the campaign.

"Dateline NBC" will report on the issues leading up to the final days of the 2004 election with Tom Brokaw. 

NBC News' "Today" and "Weekend Today" will continue to offer comprehensive coverage leading up to Election Day.  On the week day edition, "What's at Stake, Today?" will continue to look at the issues that viewers voted on as the most crucial in this year's race.  "Today" will also offer extensive information on the key senate races and state-by-state contests. 

In addition to the very latest in-depth interviews and analysis on the race for the White House, "Meet the Press with Tim Russert" will continue to devote a portion of its broadcast to a special series of Senate Debates with candidates from some of the most interesting and competitive races.  The debates are moderated by Tim Russert and originate live, from the NBC studios in Washington, D.C.

Since Labor Day, NBC's owned and operated stations have aired a minimum of five minutes per day of comprehensive coverage on the November 2004 elections.  This coverage is in addition to the day's breaking political news and includes candidate-centered discourse, in-depth newscast segments covering the national and local candidates' policy positions, reports on the issues facing the electorate, information on "Making Your Vote Count," debates between local candidates and live interviews with local candidates running for various positions.  Coverage airs Monday - Sunday within the stations' various local news broadcasts.  In addition,  weekend public affairs programs have devoted a significant amount of time to candidates and election issues, and the owned stations' individual websites are providing users with extensive information about the upcoming election.


MSNBC's continuing "Battle for the White House" coverage includes in-depth reporting and analysis throughout its dayside and primetime lineup ? "Hardball with Chris Matthews" (7:00-8:00 p.m. ET),  "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET), "Deborah Norville Tonight" (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET) and "Scarborough Country," (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET).  The combined resources of NBC News and MSNBC cover the candidates and the issues with reports from NBC's Andrea Mitchell, David Gregory, Campbell Brown, Carl Quintanilla, Ron Allen and Norah O'Donnell, as well as MSNBC's Chris Jansing, David Shuster, Pat Buchanan and Ron Reagan.

Every Friday, a special edition of "Hardball," "Hardball: The Horserace," focuses exclusively on the election with analysis of the campaigns, the newest ads, the latest polls and a look around the country at the local races with national impact. 

MSNBC will also continue working with Knight/Ridder on a series of voter surveys in key states that measure voter opinions and track the candidates' progress as they race toward the finish line.  Two sets of state-by-state polls are scheduled for release in late October.

On NBC's business news network CNBC, CNBC Washington Bureau Chief Alan Murray will anchor five election updates each day from the "Capital Report" set in Washington.  Murray's updates ? covering the latest hits, runs and errors from the campaign trail ? will also report the latest prices from the two "markets" dealing in Political Futures.  "Capital Report" will continue each night between now and Election Night with co-hosts Gloria Borger and Alan Murray.

Correspondent Diana Olick will provide "Fact Checks," which will examine claims and charges made by the candidates regarding economic and business issues.  Olick will ferret out the truth and share it with CNBC viewers.

In addition, CNBC will air a series of reports from Rob Reynolds focusing on the major economic issues of this election.  The reports, which have been shot in key swing states, will compare and contrast Bush's and Kerry's proposals for fixing:  Healthcare, Prescription Drugs, Energy, Jobs, Wages, the Deficit, Taxes, and Social Security.

As Election Day nears, MSNBC.com invites news consumers to try their hand at running a campaign.  The "Big Picture: Campaign Manager," an interactive, multi-media feature, will begin to roll-out Oct. 18.  In it, users can apply to be a fictional campaign manager for President Bush or Senator Kerry, using poll data to set the candidate's key messages, developing a spending strategy, and even creating a campaign television ad. Users can also take the Campaign Manager challenge and compare strategies such as their platform to generic platforms created by the sum of viewers taking on the competitor role.  In addition, users building a TV campaign ad can email it to friends for feedback on whether it hits the mark.

MSNBC.com also hosts "Hardblogger," a political blog updated by anchors and analysts from MSNBC TV as well as Chris Matthew's "Hardball HorseRace" which includes various multi-media modules to help the viewer fully understand the state of the race. MSNBC.com brings the NBC News feature "Making Your Vote Count" online with information to help voters avoid pitfalls at the voting booth. 

"First Read," NBC News' on-line political newsletter -- published by the NBC News Political Unit -- will continue daily, with special editions during the run up to Election Day.

Political coverage will be a key part of NBC News radio's 17 daily one-minute newscasts beginning at 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.  Coverage include reports from Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert, Brian Williams, Andrea Mitchell, and the NBC News correspondents reporting from the campaign trail -- including David Gregory, Kelly O'Donnell, Carl Quintanilla and Norah O'Donnell. 

NBC Mobile produces NBC News coverage for cellular phone users.  Newscasts are reported daily at 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., Noon, 4:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. and at 11:00 p.m. and are reported by NBC News anchors and correspondents in New York, London, Moscow, Washington, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Mark Lukasiewicz is the executive producer of NBC News' "Decision 2004" political coverage.

Please note:  Images of "Democracy Plaza" can be found on NBC's Media Village website at www.nbcmv.com.

Press Contacts:
Allison Gollust, NBC News Communications
Barbara Levin, NBC News Communications
Jeremy Gaines, MSNBC Communications
Amy Zelvin, CNBC Communications
Cherylynne Crowther, MSNBC.com Communications
Gerardo Oyola, Telemundo Communications

NBC News New York, October 6, 2004