ITV will host a televised debate between party leaders later this month ahead of the general election.
ITV News anchor Julie Etchingham is set to moderate the ITV Leaders’ Debate when it airs on Thursday, 18 May, at 8pm.
The debate will follow the format set by the previous two general election leaders’ debates after the first aired on ITV in 2010.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will not take part in televised head-to-head debates, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also understood to be planning to avoid them if May does not attend.
Press Gazette understands that despite calls for politicians to be empty-chaired, ITV will not apply this policy and instead will have the right number of podiums for attending leaders.
This is in line with the BBC’s leaders debate in 2015 when then Prime Minister David Cameron did not attend, but was not empty chaired.
Political parties invited to attend the ITV Leaders’ Debate this year are the Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens.
As in previous years, leaders will make short opening and closing statements and take questions from members of the studio audience before the floor opens to “a period of free-flowing debate”, said ITV.
ITV director of news and current affairs Michael Jermey said: “ITV will be offering our viewers a wide range of programmes on this snap election. Listening to voters and helping them put their questions direct to the politicians will be at the heart of what we’ll do.
“We have a strong record on organising debate programmes and giving viewers the chance to put their questions straight to the politicians. The ITV Leaders’ Debate moderated by Julie Etchingham and the debates in the nations will give viewers an opportunity to get answers.”
As part of its election coverage, ITV will extend ITV News at Ten by 10 minutes each weekday from 8 May.
For the first time, the ITV News website will host a Campaign Live section that will run “a live video feed of each day’s campaign events using cameras located across the country”.
ITV News will dedicate target teams to follow the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat party leaders and have two dedicated teams travelling up and down the UK during the election campaign.
On election night, ITV News will broadcast throughout the night with the latest count results, anchored by Tom Bradby.
Geoff Hill, editor of ITV News, said: “Our journalists will travel across the United Kingdom in the coming weeks, speaking and listening to the voting public who will be most affected by the outcome of Election 2017.
“Throughout the campaign, ITV News will examine manifestos, analyse policies, debate the key issues and challenge leading decision-makers.
“Our coverage will be dynamic and balanced, providing viewers with an accurate account of what’s happening ahead of voting day and who will be moving into Number 10 as Prime Minister on 9 June.”
Also, across the rest of the UK:
- ITV viewers in Wales will be able to watch a live ITV Wales Election Debate programme on Wednesday, May 17, at 8pm, with five party leaders in Wales, moderated by ITV Wales political editor Adrian Masters
- In Northern Ireland, UTV will broadcast a 60 minute debate on Wednesday, 24 May, at 9pm, moderated by UTV presenter Marc Mallett
- STV’s Scotland Debates programme will air on Wednesday 24 May in ITV Border Scotland and will include the leaders of the four main political parties in Scotland – the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson of the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour’s Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.