Media companies worried about plan for televised election debates

“A Debates Committee cannot and will not be established without the agreement of all parties and media organizations concerned,” Morton said. “On this basis, agreement on the founding principles … is a precondition for the establishment of the Commission.”

The rules include the requirement that a debate take place in a regional venue, one in Canberra, and that none take place on a Sunday. The rules also state that two interviews broadcast on the same evening by the same program are considered debate and that no broadcaster can be covered by “no worms” which records the audience’s approval or disapproval in real time.

It also requires that committee agreements be based on consensus and that all group deliberations be confidential.

Mr Morton said the commission would be headed by 10 people – two representatives each from the Liberal and Labor parties, an independent commissioner appointed by the government and another by the opposition, and two representatives from the broadcast media companies. The CEO of the National Press Club and the president of the gallery would also sit on the board of directors according to current plans. Mr Morton asked for agreement from all parties on the proposed foundation and framework by November 22.

News Corp Australia, editor of The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and The sun herald and owner of Sky News, declined to comment, but privately expressed concerns about the proposal.

Ms Fair said commercial broadcasters had several key concerns, including the number of media companies represented on the commission. “There should be representation from all Australian broadcasters, a clear structure for decision-making and government and opposition must engage in the process from the start,” she said.

Commercial broadcasters are also concerned that the government is preventing them from recording audience approval.

This concern is shared by the national press forum. A draft letter to Mr. Morton from the National Press Gallery, which was distributed to the National Press Club board of directors and seen by this headline, supports the establishment of the commission but suggests several ways to improve the model .

“We have free media. It’s up to the media to decide what they do, ”the letter said in response to a proposed restriction on public polling. SBS and ABC declined to comment.

Federal Liberal Party Director Andrew Hirst has said he supports the proposal, but the PLA has yet to decide on its position. The National Press Gallery is also reluctant to accept the proposed rules, according to people familiar with the matter.

The proposal is different from the way other commissions are handled abroad. In the United States, debates are overseen by a nonprofit committee on presidential debates, and the two main parties have no input on the rules and do not sit on the board.

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