UK to have US-style TV debates before poll

Discussions expected to have impact on politics by raising voters interests


The move is the latest effort to repair the damage caused to politics and politicians by the expenses scandal that was the most important story of 2009.
The scandal scarred the reputation of many leading politicians and plunged politics in a never before reached nadir.

There will be three 90-minute debates, one each on ITV, Sky and BBC channels.
The television debates will feature the three leaders: Gordon Brown (Labour), David Cameron (Conservative) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats).
The television debates are expected to have a significant impact on politics by raising voters’ interests and providing drama that could alter the campaign.Election debates have attracted huge audiences in the US.

Alastair Stewart will host the first debate on ITV, Adam Boulton of Sky will host the second and veteran David Dimbleby will host the third debate on the BBC.
The programmes will be broadcast in peak time during the election campaign and will be in front of a selected audience.

Themed debate
The format will be the same for each one, with about half of each debate themed.
The BBC and Sky will make their programmes available to other broadcasters simultaneously.
ITV will make its programme available to other broadcasters immediately after transmission.

Discussions will resume in the new year to finalise detailed arrangements for the debates.
The election is widely expected to be held on May 6.
Brown said: “I relish the opportunity provided by these debates to discuss the big choices the country faces.

“The country needs to debate whether we lock in the recovery or whether we choke it off; whether we protect the NHS, schools and police or whether we put them at risk to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy few.” Cameron said: “I have been pushing for two years for this to happen. I think debates can help enliven our democracy, help answer people’s questions and help crystallise the debate about the change this country needs.”

Clegg said: “After a terrible year for politicians because of the expenses scandals, these debates will be an opportunity to start re-engaging people with politics.”

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