Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 16:28 UK

TV firms propose election debates

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
Previous attempts to get leaders to do a TV debate have failed

The BBC, ITV and BSkyB have put forward a joint proposal to stage three live election debates between the leaders of the three main political parties.

Under the plan, the three broadcasters would stage one debate each in peak time with the footage later being made available to other broadcasters.

Sky has challenged the party leaders to take part in a debate.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have agreed to do so, while Gordon Brown has yet to make his position clear.

The prime minister said on Tuesday that he had made up his mind whether to participate or not in a live broadcast but now was not the right time to discuss the matter.

Mr Cameron has accused him of "dithering" over the issue.

Several of Mr Brown's closest allies, including Schools Secretary Ed Balls and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, have backed the idea of the debates in principle.

Past attempts to stage head-to-head meetings between the party leaders have foundered over their format and who would chair them.

The broadcasters have now written to the three party leaders setting out the details of their proposal.

Their plan would see each produce and broadcast their own debate, selecting the chair themselves.



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