Time Warner Inc. revamped its policy of contributing to
political campaigns, opting to invest the cash in more political coverage by its print-
and cable-news operations.
The company said it will initiate a four-point program
aimed at supporting campaign-finance reform; eliminating "soft-money"
contributions, or the unregulated donations made to political parties; strengthening its
political-action committee; and enhancing the company's journalistic coverage of political
"The impact of unregulated soft money and the
prevalence of highly expensive, often negative advertising are increasingly distorting the
political process," Time Warner chairman Gerald Levin and president Richard Parsons
said in a joint statement.
Time Warner made $155,000 in soft-money contributions in
the first half of this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, compared
with $471,000 for all of 1998.
CRP spokesman Larry Makinson said Time Warner isn't the
first major corporation to eliminate its soft-money fund -- General Motors Corp. was,
about a year ago -- and it is unlikely that a wave of large companies will follow Time
Warner's lead. "I don't think this means other media companies are going to do
this," he said.
Makinson added that although Time Warner has given soft
money -- it regularly ranks about No. 50among corporate donors -- most of its
contributions come from individual donations.
"This certainly isn't a dramatic turnaround on Time
Warner's part on what it gives [to political candidates]," Makinson said.
Time Warner said in a press release that the company will
closely monitor its PAC "to ensure that it is a model of how the system should
However, according to company sources, that strategy most
likely will not change the amount of money the PAC contributes or which candidates will
get the cash.
The company said it would support campaign-finance reform
by giving money to organizations working on reform. The company earmarked $50,000 for the
Committee for Economic Development, a group of business executives who favor the
elimination of soft-money donations.
Time Warner's news operations will get roughly $2.6 million
for additional coverage, including $1 million to Time Inc. magazines and Cable News
Network for special campaign coverage entitled, "At Issue: Election 2000."
Also, regional news channels New York 1 News in New York
City; R/News in Rochester, N.Y.; Central Florida News 13 in Orlando, Fla.; Bay News 9 in
Tampa, Fla.; and Austin 8 News in Austin, Texas, will get an extra $1 million in total to
boost their coverage of local and congressional races.
Time magazine will get another $500,000 for a special
youth-oriented program involving Time for Kids to educate the next generation of
voters, and Warner Music Group will issue a $50,000 grant to Rock the Vote, the music
industry's youth voter-registration campaign.