The major broadcasters in the UK are said to be in negotiations with Downing Street over debates on the EU referendum. The BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Sky are looking to air a debate between the campaigns advocating for Britain to remain in the EU and those in favour of exiting it.
The main issue that is at the centre of presenting such a debate is the issue of balance between the groups. According to a report from The Guardian, a number of groups advocating the UK’s exit from the EU have been established, and it has not been confirmed which groups will speak for each side of the debate.
All major UK broadcasters vying to host EU referendum debates https://t.co/U6m1g80Ttk
— Media Guardian (@mediaguardian) February 10, 2016
However, Prime Minister David Cameron is reported to have declined the offer of such a debate. Reached by telephone, a spokesperson for Downing Street said they have not commented officially on the subject of debates.
Cameron is in favour of the UK remaining in the EU, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said late last year the party is to campaign to remain in the EU. Cameron has previously said that government ministers are welcome to campaign for either side.
A spokesperson for Vote Leave, which advocates for Britain’s exit from the EU, reached by telephone, said they were having ongoing conversations with the broadcasters when it came to coverage of the issue, and that they would welcome such a debate on the referendum.
A spokesperson for Leave.EU, another advocate for the UK’s exit from the EU, reached by email, said the campaign had not been approached, and said the broadcasters would be waiting for the Electoral Commission to designate a lead campaign before they put someone forward.
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission, reached by telephone, said they cannot designate a campaign until a date for the referendum and a referendum period (including campaigning) was established by Parliament. Yet, the spokesperson said this does not stop the ability for broadcasters and campaigners to negotiate any such debates, as the work of the Commission does not cover television debates.
Plans by broadcasters for such debates however are unclear. A spokesperson for the BBC, reached by email, said they were not commenting considering a date for the referendum has not been announced.
A spokesperson for Channel 4, reached by email, said exact programmes regarding the referendum were still in the works.
A spokesperson for Sky News, reached by email, said they were not commenting at present. A spokesperson for ITV did not respond to a request seeking comment.