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BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky join forces for party leader debates proposal

Published: Mon 13 Oct 2014

BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky join forces for party leader debates proposal
 
The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky today announce their joint plans to broadcast a series of multi-platform party leader debates in the run up to the 2015 General Election.
 
All four broadcasters believe televised party leader debates are vital in engaging voters with the political process. The broadcasters intend to transmit the leaders debates live for all their extensive audiences, on air, online and on social media, which together have a mass reach amongst the British population.
 
They have written to David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage inviting them to take part.  It follows the success of the broadcast debates in 2010, the first in British political history, which were watched by 22 million people.
 
Responding to the changes in the political landscape and developments in digital media, the jointly-proposed plans for 2015 are taking a different format. The party leaders are being invited to take part in three debates: 
 
One head-to-head debate between the two leaders who could become Prime Minister – Conservative and Labour. This debate will be co-produced by Sky News and Channel 4 and chaired by Jeremy Paxman.  Kay Burley will introduce the programme and present the post-debate analysis. The whole programme will be carried live on Sky and Channel 4 and their digital platforms, as well as having a major presence across social media.
 
One debate between the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders. This debate will be produced by the BBC and presented by David Dimbleby. It will be broadcast on BBC One with extensive live coverage on other BBC TV and Radio networks and online.
 
One debate between the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP leaders. This debate will be produced and broadcast by ITV. The ITV debate, chaired by Julie Etchingham, will air on ITV's main channel and online.
 
All three debates would take place within the six-week campaign period at a time when the parties will be setting out their policies - to help further engage the audience with the election. The proposal entails three debates at fortnightly intervals on 2 April, 16 April  and 30 April at locations around the UK.
             
Each debate would be open to questions across all subject areas and would take place in front of audiences comprising members of the general public, who will put their questions to the leaders.
 
Audiences would be asked to submit questions and the broadcasters plan to work with social media organisations including Twitter and Facebook to ensure the widest possible audience engagement. Each broadcaster will make their debate available live to all other media outlets.
 
All the broadcasters will be responsible for ensuring due impartiality for political parties across the UK and will publish these proposals separately as individual broadcasters.
 
 
Press contacts:
 
BBC - James Hardy, Head of Communications, BBC News – james.hardy@bbc.co.uk
 
ITV - Jenny Cummins, PR Manager -  Jenny.Cummins@ITV.com
 
Channel 4 – Marion Bentley, Group Publicity Manager Factual, News & Current Affairs – mjbentley@channel4.co.uk
 
Sky – Lucy Ellison, Director of News PR for Sky -  Lucy.ellison@bskyb.com