MEDIA: Sky and ITN reveal election plans

Commercial news broadcasters unveiled their plans for general

election coverage this week, as Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed the

poll would take place on 7 June.



ITN and Sky News outlined in detail their plans to bag the election

night audience and to command public attention in the weeks before

polling day.



ITN has announced that political editor John Sergeant's regular

contributions on the ITV nightly news will form one part of a

two-pronged strategy. The other is headed by Jonathan Dimbleby, who will

host four live, audienced interviews - called Ask Tony Blair and the

like - with party leaders.



Dimbleby will maintain his Sunday lunchtime slot covering issues such as

health, crime, Europe and involving figures from the major parties.



His final offering will be a 'campaign diary' to be broadcast after 7

June.



Sky News political editor Adam Boulton will present two one-hour live

programmes - The Boulton Factor - at seven and 11 each evening. He will

also leave London to film Election Forums - public debates to be aired

each Friday evening from Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Milton

Keynes.



On election night, Boulton will anchor the coverage. As in 1997, the

Dimbleby brothers will go head to head on ITV and the BBC (the latter is

home to elder brother David).



The BBC confirmed earlier this year that its election night coverage

would be anchored by David Dimbleby. Despite this, and its use of Jeremy

Paxman and elections expert Anthony King, the BBC stressed most outside

broadcasts would be fronted by women.



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