Thursday 3 May 2012

UK media take note: French TV debate a triumph

Last night saw the only TV debate in the second round of the French presidential election. It lasted nearly three hours without a break, was broadcast on all networks, was a tetchy and intense affair - and was an absolute triumph. Write ups from the New York TimesBen Brogan are worth reading as is this summary of the campaign from Christian Science Monitor.

As the picture above shows it was a head to head format where each candidate was allowed to develop arguments and question the record/manifesto of the other. The moderators were secondary and only occasionally interrupted or moved the discussion on. The debate was allowed to ebb and flow, taking its natural course, so each candidate had ample opportunity to try and score points.

It was in stark contrast to the TV debates introduced at the last General Election in the UK where Adam Boulton, Alastair Stewart and David Dimbleby, on Sky, ITV and the BBC, felt the need to dominate proceedings or cut the arguments of Clegg, Cameron and Brown short. This style of debate is what is seen in America - so of course we naturally copied it - but rarely tests those taking part or informs the viewers at home.

For the next General Election let's hope that one of the broadcasters has the guts to look across the channel, rather than the Atlantic, so we can really see the strengths and weaknesses of our party leaders.   

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