Behind the scenes of the Saskatchewan leaders' debate
Less than an hour long, but it takes months of planning to pull it off
While Cam Broten and Brad Wall may square off for less than an hour on Wednesday night, the leaders' debate has taken many weeks to plan and prepare.
Here's a look at how it all comes together.
The broadcast pool partnership
CBC initiated talks between CTV and Global months ago to form a pool which would collectively produce the debate.
Multiple meetings between news directors resulted in an editorial and technical plan for debate night, as well as a formal agreement on sharing the costs and live feed of the debate.
It is the only time the normally competitive media outlets agree to share resources and editorial plans to this degree.
The moderator and panel
Because the pool partners are also competitors, it's traditional that the debate moderator not be a well-known personality for any one station. For that reason, the pool usually agrees on someone working outside of media. This year, that is former broadcaster Costa Maragos.
Each media outlet gets one of their journalists on the panel that will ask questions and challenge the leaders. For CBC, that is political reporter Stefani Langenegger.
Meeting the Parties
Just like the media outlets have an agreement with each other, the pool also has an agreement with the parties. There are rules about just about everything to make sure no one leader gets preferential treatment. Everything from what time they arrive, where they stand, to which order they speak is agreed upon.
Perhaps surprisingly, the party officials who are at political war with each other, are on friendly and first-name terms when they meet to finalize these details.
The program itself is built in a specific computer program that all TV stations use to organize and execute their daily news programs.
The only thing not planned about the debate is how the leaders answer the questions. They have not seen the questions ahead of time, and they are only allowed notes at the podium. The rules state that there are no electronic aids or teleprompters allowed.
Each leader gets opening and closing remarks and their answers to each question are timed. It's the moderator's job to keep everyone on time. To help, there's a massive countdown clock on the set that everyone can see.
Reporters from all media organizations are invited. They will watch the debate from a special room set up just for them. It will include live TV and recordable audio feeds. They'll be able to speak to the party organizers, who also each have their own rooms during the debate. Once the debate is over, media will "scrum" each leader — again, in an order decided by drawing cards.
You can follow the debate on television, radio or online from 6:05 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. CST
Live on CBC Television (check your TV service provider for channel).
Live on CBC Radio One (540 AM; 102.5 FM-Regina; 94.1 FM-Saskatoon)
Live-streaming online at CBC's Saskatchewan and Saskatoon websites.
No matter how you take it in, now you'll know a little more about how it all came together.
By the numbers:
Formal agreements signed: 2 (broadcast pool, party participation)
TV cameras needed: 6
Broadcast partners: 3
Days needed to build debate studio: 6
Last minute mixup on the floor graphic: 1 (fixed!)
Pre-debate rehearsals for staff: 2
Commercial breaks cancelled: 5
Questions to be asked: 12