Richard Therrien points out that TQS was the only “généraliste” (read: broadcast) network that didn’t broadcast the Quebec leaders’ debate last night.
Well, that’s not exactly true. CBC, CTV and Global didn’t broadcast it either, even though all three are based in Montreal and have a duty to the people to bring these kinds of things to them. So the question is: Why didn’t they? Why wasn’t the debate broadcast on the English networks?
The basic answer, of course, is that it was in French. Rebroadcasting it would have required simultaneous translation, and wouldn’t have had as much of an impact on the voters. But does that mean it’s irrelevant? Unlike the federal leaders’ debate, we don’t have an English version to turn to. That was it. Two hours at a table was all we would get of the leaders facing each other directly, of the networks showing political programming that wasn’t paid for by the parties or filtered through news anchors.
The other argument you could make is that those who wanted to watch the debate could just turn to RadCan or TVA. But if that’s the argument, why bother having “broadcast consortiums” at all? Why not just leave it to Télé-Québec and CBC?
What’s worse is that anglos with cable couldn’t watch the debate translated either. While RDI and LCN carried it live, CBC Newsworld and CTV Newsnet didn’t. Even CPAC didn’t carry it live, though they repeated it later (it’s not on their online schedule, so I can’t tell if it’s being repeated again).
Of course, you could also argue that anglos don’t matter because they’re all going to vote Liberal anyway. So perhaps nobody but me is going to be outraged that a million Quebecers are being left out of this entirely.
But it bothers me that not a single anglophone television network, even those specifically devoted to news, could be bothered to show two hours of a political debate that will affect how this province is governed over the coming years.
Was simulcasting House really more important?
UPDATE (Nov. 29): CTV’s Barry Wilson touches on the lack of an English debate, without saying why his station decided not to show the debate live (or taped, for that matter) with translation.