UK & World News
Sky News Supports Early TV Debates In 2015
Sky News has called for three televised leadership debates to be held at two-week intervals in the run-up to the 2015 General Election.
The call comes after David Cameron last week committed to participating in a series of debates, but expressed his concern about when they should be held.
Mr Cameron told Sky's Adam Boulton that the "three debates in the (2010) campaign took all the rest of the life out of the campaign".
He suggested that the 2015 events should begin before the election campaign.
Writing in The Times newspaper, John Ryley, head of Sky News, praised the three major party leaders for committing to the televised debates.
Labour leader Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg have also expressed their willingness to participate in debates.
Mr Ryley agreed with Mr Cameron's claim that the 2010 debates detracted from the General Election campaign.
"For much of April 2010 it seemed that politicians - not to mention Sky, the BBC and ITN - were either preparing for, taking part in, or reacting to one of the three debates," he wrote.
"It certainly left little time for the normal diet of morning news conferences and 'battle bus' tours that illuminated previous campaigns."
Mr Ryley suggested that since the 2015 polling day had already been set for May 7, "there should be little problem organising the debates to allow ample time for more traditional campaigning".
He proposed holding three debates at two-week intervals starting on April 2.
"This not only gives the politicians a few days to launch their campaigns, but crucially allows them plenty of time in between to get about the country meeting voters and pressing the flesh," he said.
"This timetable also gives the parties a clear seven-day run-in to polling day itself, with the debates behind them and the electorate fully engaged."
Mr Ryley said that TV debates played an important role in the political process.
"The holding of TV debates was the most significant development in British political journalism since the televising of the Houses of Commons and Lords nearly a quarter of a century ago.
"With fixed-term parliaments allowing for concerns around the stifling of the election campaign to be addressed, broadcasters and politicians have little excuse not to get round the table and work on producing TV leaders' debates that innovate and engage."