Should Sky be hosting an election debate?

March 2nd, 2010 § 8 comments

Should Sky be hosting a debate of the three main party leaders?

Sky may be a big name, but they’re not exactly a national broadcaster, are they? They have what? Ten million subscribers (and expected to lose about 17% of them) and the whole of the Sky owned channels have about 7% of the nations viewers. They are not open to everyone like the terrestrial channels are.
For example, if you hardly ever watch the BBC, you could still switch over for and watch the debate about domestic issues, but if you want to watch the debate based on international affairs, which is the one Sky will be hosting, you can’t unless you subscribe to Sky for 12 months. Big important football games are shown on terrestrial and not just satellite channels, so why is this debate restricted to such a small audience?

Many people not only do not want Sky, but cannot justify the expense. In these days of everyone having to tighten their belts and the nature of these debates, being part of the general election campaign, should such a massive amount of people not be able to see it?

The Scots may be moaning about the way that there will be no representative from their major parties (aren’t they having their own debates now?) but with Sky showing one of the debates, it is like one of the terrestrially broadcast events being shown only on STV.

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§ 8 Responses to Should Sky be hosting an election debate?"

  • James Christie says:

    The SNP’s demand that they should be included in the debates is daft, but as a Scot I strongly resent the way the big Westminster based parties are rigging the election coverage. They claim that the SNP are irrelevant. That is a highly contentious political conclusion that they should be arguing for and justifying. It is dishonest to pretend that this is a premise from which the arguments can flow. I am not choosing between Brown, Cameron and Clegg. I am choosing an MP to represent my constituency. The big three may not like my attitude, but I should not be expected to vote according to their agenda. If they were correct, and if the SNP were irrelevant, then the Union would not be up for debate, and any votes for Unionist parties could not be taken as support for the Union. That’s utter nonsense.

    My second objection is that the debate on domestic issues will inevitable focus on matters that are reserved to the Scottish Parliament. Will the leaders keep saying, “but this doesn’t apply to Scotland”? Of course not. They have all campaigned for General Election votes in Scotland since devolution by pushing policies that Westminster can’t deliver here. Where there is a partisan advantage to be had from confusion then they’ve happily exploited it.

    My final objection is about Sky. Giving them one of the debates completely undermines the justification for having them in the first place; ie to give all the voters a chance to assess the leaders and their policies. Our leaders seem more concerned about one US citizen than millions of UK citizens. Sky is not available on Freeview, here anyway. So this house will have one debate on the economy, a debate on largely English issues, and none on international issues.

    I can understand why the politicians and broadcasters believe that a fair, accessible debate is impossible. However, that doesn’t mean that it is acceptable to rig the election coverage in favour of certain parties. It would be far better just to drop the idea. Would it really harm the election? Will the debates really tell us anything new about the men and their policies? The debates will, however, reinforce the message that the Westminster parties have been blaring out here in Scotland, that the SNP are irrelevant to a Westminster election.

    We’re stuck with the debates of course. It suits the interests of the the three main UK parties to stitch up a deal that keeps Sky sweet. It stinks though.

  • Chris says:

    I though it was on Sky News? If so, wouldn’t that make it available to Sky, Virgin and Freeview users?

    Its been ages since I used freeview, so I have no idea if Sky news is still available. I’m fairly sure it used to be.

    Still, even if that is the case its still a bit of a shitter to all the grannies that are still watching terrestrial TV…
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Glastonbury 2010 ticket resale date announced =-.

    • Sim-O says:

      someone else pointed out that Sky News is not a subscription channel

      sky news not available to absolutely everyone, but it is on Freeview – subscription to Sky not required

      There’s the point – “not available to absolutley everyone”.

      My main point still stands.

      • Chris says:

        I agree. It does seem a bit strange that Sky are holding a debate when the nationally accessible Channel 4 an option, even more so seeing as its publicly owned.

        I guess the fact that Murdoch has a large wad of cash at his disposal made no difference to the decision. Honestly, none at all. :)
        .-= Chris´s last blog ..Glastonbury 2010 ticket resale date announced =-.

  • Dan says:

    You could always download the debate. Although that is ‘illegal’ and if you do David Geffen will come round your house with Peter Mandelson on a lead, who will kick you in the balls.

    In all seriousness, didn’t the BBC have the ITV debate on the iPlayer for a while?

    • Sim-O says:

      I’ve no idea about the ITV debate being on iPlayer, but again, it misses the point.

      Howm many people that aren’t on non-terrestrial going to be using iPlayer?

  • ceedee says:

    I hate Murdoch as much as the next LibDem tactical voter but this post is terribly mis-informed.
    If anything Sky’s leaders’ debate will be more available than ITV’s.
    Please read Adam Boulton’s blog before shooting me down:

    • Sim-O says:

      I wasn’t expecting that from Sky…

      Unlike ITV which insisted on an exclusive live broadcast last week, the BBC and Sky News consider the Leaders’ Debates to be a public service and will be making the events available live to other broadcasters around the world.

      (BBC, ITV and Channel 4 could have put out the Sky debate live as a public service but have chosen not to…)

      Well. That’s shut me up.

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