Last night’s Czech Presidential debate, presented by TV Prima, was an offence to a mature democratic society. Whether it was down to lack of professionalism, or something more deliberate, is something I cannot judge, although many people have views. And maybe it is easy for me to criticise, having been brought up with the BBC. Maybe thanks to that upbringing, it isn’t difficult for me to identify 10 ways in which TV Prima let themselves, and the country, down:
1. Why do you need a studio audience at all, if none of them are able to ask questions?
- Why 600? Why not a maximum of 100? What audio-visual effect are you seeking to create, with such a large number?
- You set out the ground rules for behaviour to the audience and to the teams of the two candidates, in advance. You make it clear that if they are consistently broken, the debate will be suspended.
- You ensure that you have a moderator who is willing and able to enforce those ground rules.
- If you choose to adorn the stage with big images of the two candidates, both images should be current, and not overly-manipulated with software.
- This is a debate between two citizens. If you show one of them more deference because he is the current President, you confer on him an advantage.
- If one of the candidates speaks more slowly than most citizens you must still ensure that the second candidate is given the same amount of time to answer. Otherwise you confer on the slooooow candidate an advantage. And in this chart, you see the advantage last night (source iRozhlas.cz)
- Such a debate is of national interest. The questions should therefore be those of greatest interest to the nation and not just to the core target audience of the TV station. Only 21% of Czechs smoke, and I presume even less own a gun.
- If the questions are preceded by “background” supplied by the TV station, that background must not be biased towards the views of one candidate. E.g. some citizens may be negatively affected by the smoking ban, others positively. Both viewpoints must be represented in equal measure.
- When the debate finishes, it finishes. Do not allow one candidate to interrupt the moderator’s closing remarks in an attempt to have the final word. Not even if that candidate is the current President.
Let’s hope Česka televize do better on on 25 January