Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Fix the Debates, Please!

If anything comes from the debacle that was the TVNZ leaders debate it should be the realisation that NZ needs something similar to the Commission on Presidential Debates used in the US.
If you don't agree, look at what we've had so far, this year's crop of debates have been somewhat farcical, all operating under radically different conditions and expectations.
TV3's multi-party debate was set the furthest from the election date which ensured it was of the least benefit for coverage-starved smaller parties, the Dunne-Anderton court ordered appearence was an absolute joke. TV3 have brought upon themselves a dangerous judicial precedent but for which TV3 only have themselves to blame. And I haven't even mentioned the frickin' worm.
And did anyone under 40 actually listen to the National radio debate at 7pm on a Friday? Of course the debate is not available online because that would be, well, you know, convenient. But then this is the same public broadcaster whose staff care so much about the public's right to know that they strike in the middle of an election campaign. For both the people that listened, the RNZ debate was scarred by the same noisy partisan cretins that ruined the TVNZ debate.

An independent commission comprised of representatives of the parties, major broadcasters and the voting public could decide frequency and format of the debates, along with the rules and conditions of entry. Each debate could be hosted by a different anchor from TVNZ, TV3 and Radio NZ or even Paul Holmes (just kidding). Every tv and radio station would be free to carry the feed, then we won't have the silly situation where TV3 news pretends the TVNZ debates don't exist and vice versa.
An independent debates commssion with a clearly defined role and based around serving the public interest would allow the voting public to be better informed and increase accessibility for the public good. This is the reason it will never happen. Ratings are far more important.

No comments: