TVNZ and YouTube today announced a history-making initiative which will allow New Zealanders to put questions directly to Prime Minister Helen Clark and Opposition Leader John Key – the ONE News YouTube Election Debate.
TVNZ, New Zealand's public broadcaster, and YouTube will jointly present a live televised election debate between the two party leaders, featuring questions posted as video submissions on YouTube.
The leaders' responses will be broadcast live on TVNZ's flagship News channel, TV ONE, on 14th October 2008. ONE News' Mark Sainsbury will moderate the 90 minute ONE News YouTube Election Debate, with three of New Zealand's leading political journalists asking additional questions.
A selection of user questions will appear on YouTube for users to vote for their favourites.
“YouTube enables voters and leaders to communicate in a way that simply was not possible during the 2005 election,” said Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics at YouTube. “New Zealanders have long been leaders in embracing democracy and the opportunities that new technologies can provide, so we're thrilled to announce this debate and give all New Zealanders the chance to have their questions heard - and answered.”
TVNZ's chief executive Rick Ellis says the joint initiative between the public broadcaster and YouTube is a new opportunity for New Zealanders to get their issues and concerns heard at the highest level.
This is the first time that a head of a national government and the challenger for the top job will appear in an official live televised debate, featuring video questions asked directly by people using YouTube.
In the United States, two CNN/YouTube debates were held in 2007, featuring Democratic and Republican candidates. The debates married YouTube's online video platform with CNN's political coverage and broadcast reach, bringing candidates and voters together in a unique way.
In addition to the live airing on TVNZ, a replay of the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader's answers will be available on YouTube, giving New Zealanders the opportunity to respond to, and discuss, the leaders' answers and the issues raised.