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Cando1,286 posts since 8 Mar 2012
London London
C4 lobbies for election ‘voice’
17 January, 2013 | By Balihar Khalsa

Channel 4 is lobbying to host an election debate in the run-up to the 2015 general election campaign – and is arguing it should take over from Sky News in the roster

C4 is making the case that if there are three debates, as in 2010, it should be one of the host broadcasters.

It has begun communicating its view to the many parties involved in organising the debates, arguing that it would attract more viewers than Sky News.

“There are genuine discussions with No 10 about how to properly accommodate C4, given its PBS remit and Sky News’ small 2010 audience. It is about giving the debates as wide a reach as possible,” said a source.

“Sky had to rely on a BBC News simulcast and a BBC2 repeat to get its figures up.”

The Sky News debate, hosted by Adam Boulton, drew the lowest audience of the three, achieving an average of 2.12 million (8.7%) across the 90-minute broadcast, which peaked at 2.53 million (10.4%).

Including BBC coverage, it was ultimately watched by 4.3 million people. The ITV debate was watched by 9.5 million on average, and the BBC1 debate averaged 7.3 million viewers, rising to 8.4 million with simulcasts.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: “As a public service terrestrial broadcaster, with a strong reputation among younger viewers and an award-winning track record in news and current affairs, we believe C4 could play an important role in engaging the UK’s viewers in a televised debate.”

Sky is aware of the case C4 is presenting and will counter that the 2010 Sky debate drew the second-biggest ever non-terrestrial TV audience, and was the culmination of an entire week of programming on the channel, which C4 would not be able to match.

It also believes that the PSB argument is a red herring. It will argue that Sky News’ strong record and reputation are not hindered by its lack of PSB status and that its reach is neither its USP nor how its success should be measured.

Prime minister David Cameron and other senior politicians have committed, in principle, to the debates taking place in 2015, and Labour leader Ed Miliband revealed last weekend that he “relished” the prospect.

But the shape of the debates is yet to emerge. Options being considered among the political parties include the debates taking place earlier in the election campaign, or even reducing the number of debates from three to two. “If the politicians decide to cut the number of debates, it could mean only BBC and ITV hold them,” said a source .

Formal negotiations between the parties and broadcasters are expected to begin in autumn this year.

One source close to the original negotiations said: “The main priority is to ensure that support for the debates expressed by Cameron and other politicians is transferred to the election campaigns.”

Last edited by Cando on 17 January 2013 1:40pm
Live at five with Jeremy1,094 posts since 7 Mar 2009
UTV Newsline
I cant imagine Adam Boulton would be happy to see this. He joked a couple of weeks back that Kay Burley could present the Sky News debate after controversy over a press conference by David Cameron in which no females posed questions to the Prime Minister. Considering Sky initiated the campaign for leaders debates I think it would be unfair for them to lose out to the hands of Channel 4. However I think the debates will be less rigid in their rules in 2015 as all three leaders are in favour of less stringent rules and I believe Jon Snow would make a sensational Moderator. Another issue may arise, the inclusion of UKIP and its leader Nigel Farage. Considering they are out polling both The Conservatives and Lib Dems they may have a case for inclusion in the debates.
Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
I'd like to see C4 News throw itself behind the next election completely. Their effort last time was far too short and shouldn't have included the segments from other programmes. If they can create an election programme, hosted through the night by the C4 News team but with Charlie Brooker and David Mitchell they'd be on to a winner.
DVB Cornwall6,950 posts since 4 Dec 2003
Westcountry Spotlight
Makes a great deal of sense, would put Sky in it's place as a minority broadcaster. Channel Four could get an independent to produce it's debate, removing it from ITN's control.

As for extending the speakers, an awful lot would depend on results in actual polls in the immediate run up to the dissolution of Parliament rather than opinion polling data,
excel991,402 posts since 3 Jan 2009
Yorkshire Look North (E.Yorks & Lincs)
If C4 want adding to the roster, fair enough, but everyone should rotate IMO. Sky have invested a lot in their news operation and it seems discriminatory to me to single them out to loose their debate. If there are to be three debates then every four elections one off the BBC, ITV, C4 and Sky should not have one. Ratings and reach do matter for the debates, but broadcasters need to also be judged on their entire coverage of politics and their investment in news IMO

Also we aren't comparing like for like here. C4 is a former terrestrial channel, Sky News has historically had far less distribution, which puts Sky News at a disadvantage, of not fault of it's own, when it comes to ratings/reach. Remember in 2010 the digital switchover hadn't been completed and Sky News wasn't universially available
Last edited by excel99 on 17 January 2013 7:56pm