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Q & A: Why CityNews is not carrying the Ontario leaders debate

CityNews has decided to not air the Ontario leaders debate on June 3, 2014. Here are some answers to questions I’ve received on the subject.

Why is City not airing the debate?
We think that the people who wish to see good local TV news instead at 6:30 p.m. should have an option to get it. If you want to watch the debate, you will be able to as it’s being carried on many other broadcast channels. In fact, it’s available from so many sources you don’t have much choice.

What are you televising instead?
CityNews will produce our award-winning newscasts at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Are you trying to convince people NOT to watch the debate?
Not at all. Debates can be extremely informative and we’re all best served by a well-informed electorate. I hope that people who will vote, or even may vote, will do everything they can to inform themselves before casting their vote. I also hope that there is high voter turnout, especially if that is sparked by good information. However, even if we believed that there might be 100 per cent voter turnout, not all voters will be interested in the debate. We think those people should have access to local news information at this time.

What if I do want to watch the debate?
Please do. Even if you’re a loyal CityNews viewer, please watch it. It will be easy to find. Of course, we’ll also have full coverage of the debate during CityNews Tonight at 11 p.m. on CityNews.ca and Breakfast Television.

Is this a ratings grab to take audience away?
No. Any non-City viewers who watch City that day instead of the debate will probably be balanced by City viewers who go elsewhere to watch the debate. This is about being an alternative, which is important to City. We strive to be different than other TV stations.

What are your election coverage plans?
We will be live on June 12 with a multi-screen experience that will be unique to CityNews. In addition to our special election-night broadcast, we’ll have real-time results on CityNews.ca and our mobile apps; live, raw-and-unedited streams at each of the leaders’ parties; a live blog highlighting reaction to the results and commentary from civic leaders; reporters blanketing the city to provide a perspective on the key ridings and much more.

Dave Budge is Senior Director and General Manager of CityNews.