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Thursday 27 Nov 2014

Press Releases

BBC announces televised leaders debates in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

The BBC is to hold separate party leader election debates in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland [1].

These debates are in addition to the three Prime Ministerial Debates that have already been jointly announced by Sky, ITV and the BBC.

The BBC will be talking to the relevant parties about the details of these debates, now that agreement has been reached over the UK-wide debates.

In addition to the debates in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the BBC will ensure that appropriate parties [2] not taking part in the Prime Ministerial debate will receive specific and guaranteed opportunities to air their views responding directly to the UK-wide debate.

These include:

  • Immediately following the BBC's Prime Ministerial Debate, BBC One's News At Ten will carry contributions from other parties, including UKIP, the Green Party and the BNP. There will be a special and additional opt-out allowing viewers in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to hear the views of other parties which have substantial electoral support in their part of the UK.
  • On Newsnight, following the initial reporting of the debate, Newsnight Scotland will begin earlier than usual for analysis and reaction from parties in Scotland. There will be a special programme for viewers in Wales on BBC Two at the same time. Contributions from UKIP, the Green Party and the BNP will be included on Newsnight.
  • Other BBC outlets which report on the debate during the evening will also include contributions from the other parties.
  • The following morning, BBC Radio 4's Today programme will include interviews with representatives of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, UKIP, the Green Party and the BNP.
  • BBC Online, which will stream the Prime Ministerial debate live, will also carry video clips of the reactions of all the above parties, as well as those in Northern Ireland, to the debate.
  • Good Morning Scotland, Good Morning Wales and Good Morning Ulster will all carry full reaction to the UK-wide debate, including from those main parties which only stand candidates in those parts of the UK, plus other parties which have significant levels of electoral support.

A BBC news spokesman said: "We believe the national debates, and these additional specific and guaranteed opportunities to air views about the UK-wide debate, will ensure due impartiality is achieved in line with the BBC's Election Guidelines."

Notes to Editors

1. The debates in Scotland and Wales are expected to take place on Sunday 2 May, if the General Election is held on 6 May 2010.

2. The BBC will ensure that all political parties are given appropriate coverage during the campaign.

An important factor in these judgements is the previous equivalent election (ie for the 2010 General Election, the level of electoral support demonstrated in the 2005 General Election).

Some weight may also be given to evidence of electoral support at different, subsequent elections, including local and European elections, elections to devolved institutions and Westminster by-elections.

Weight is also applied appropriately taking account of the type of election being contested (for instance, the General Election being first past the post as against different forms of proportional representation) as well as the number of candidates a party is fielding.

Other relevant factors in this consideration could be the formation of new parties, splits in parties, new alliances between parties and consistent trends in robust and reliable opinion polls.

JS/KR/AS - Wales/JG2 - Scotland/UC - N.Ireland

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