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Lords to hear from broadcasters about General Election debates

On Tuesday 11 February, the House of Lords Communications Committee will take evidence from the BBC, ITV and BSkyB in the first evidence session of its new inquiry into broadcast General Election debates

On 15 April 2010, the first ever broadcast General Election debate between the UK's three main party leaders was televised on ITV, followed one week later by a second debate on Sky News, and a third, one week after that on the BBC.

This precedent has prompted discussion about their impact in 2010 and whether they should take place again in 2015 and beyond. However, the Committee does not intend to focus its inquiry on this discussion, but will instead seek to clarify the way in which those debates were managed and operated.

At 3.30 pm, the Committee will question:

  • Ric Bailey, Chief Adviser, Politics, BBC;
  • Michael Jermey, Director of News and Current Affairs, ITV; and
  • John Ryley, Head of News, BSkyB.

A range of important decisions have to be made in connection with the management and operation of the broadcast General Election debates, from which broadcasters are involved to which parties participate and how obligations to due impartiality, more generally, are met. The Committee intends to determine whether the legal and regulatory framework around these decisions is sufficient to ensure the public interest is best served.

The evidence sessions will take place on Tuesday 11 February at 3.30 pm in Committee Room 2 of the House of Lords.

The session will be webcast at and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament's Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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