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STV confirms first TV leaders’ debate of Holyrood election campaign

Political editor Bernard Ponsonby will host live event on March 29 with five Scottish party leaders.

By STV News

Published 12 Feb 2016.

STV has announced comprehensive coverage of the Scottish Parliament election race including a live debate featuring five Scottish party leaders.

Marking the formal start of the 2016 Scottish Parliament election campaign, STV will host the leaders’ debate on Tuesday, March 29 at 8pm.

It will feature First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish Labour Party Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie, and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.

The debate will be chaired by Bernard Ponsonby at The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh in front of an audience comprising a representative sample of the Scottish electorate, picked in conjunction with STV’s polling partner, Ipsos MORI.

It is part of a series of Scottish election programmes from STV. These include an overnight results programme and a series of one-to-one interviews throughout the campaign, where Mr Ponsonby will put the spotlight on the party leaders.

Throughout the pre-election period, the country’s top current affairs programme Scotland Tonight will provide full coverage and analysis of the key events and issues of the campaign, in addition to up-to-the-minute news coverage on STV News at Six and in-depth commentary and analysis online on stv.tv.

STV’s Scottish Parliament election coverage will culminate in a comprehensive overnight results programme on Thursday May 5, running from 10.30pm to 6am the next day, presented by Mr Ponsonby and featuring coverage of all the results from the Scottish Borders to Shetland.

More than 40 of the declarations will be covered live by STV’s correspondents across the country, while Mr Ponsonby will be joined by expert panellists and contributors in the STV studios in Glasgow.

On Friday May 6. there will be full analysis of the results on a special edition of STV News at Six, followed by a special Scotland Tonight at 10.30pm.

STV Glasgow and STV Edinburgh will be previewing the debate on Live at Five at 5pm on March 29 and repeating it at 10pm immediately after the STV broadcast. STV City channels will also simulcast the overnight coverage on Thursday May 5.

All programming will be streamed live and available for catch-up on the STV Player.

Gordon Macmillan, head of news at STV, said: “For the third consecutive year, STV News will be at the heart of the story as Scotland prepares to go to the polls. Across TV and online, we’ll report on the headlines and issues that matter to Scottish voters.”