News.com.au will utilise Facebook’s live video streaming feature to host Australia’s first online federal election leaders’ debate.
The debate between Prime Minster Malcom Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will be streamed on news.com.au’s website and Facebook page, and the Facebook Australia page from 6.00pm on Friday.
News.com.au has more than 600,000 Facebook followers and a monthly unique audience of 5.8 million, the largest of all news sites in Australia.
Topics to be covered in the debate will be determined by online discussion, Newspoll surveys, polling data and Facebook data on the most mentioned topics in connection with the election.
News.com.au and Facebook are also calling on the public to submit questions.
News Corp Australia columnist and Studio 10 host Joe Hildebrand will moderate the debate which will be filmed at Facebook Australia’s headquarters in Sydney in front of a live studio audience.
Live and online audiences will be encouraged to join the conversation and participate in real time using digital devices and social media.
News.com.au managing director Julian Delany said the debate would be different from anything seen before.
“It is a chance for millions of everyday Australians to not just watch the debate, but to actively participate – by asking questions and giving their instant reactions,” he said.
News Corp Australia director of corporate affairs and editorial innovation Campbell Reid said the debate would centre on topics that mattered to real Australians, not the political elite.
“With the studio audience coming from marginal seats, the debate will give true insight into the likely outcome of the election,” he said.
The studio audience will include undecided voters identified by Galaxy Research.
The Facebook debate follows the rejection last week by Mr Turnbull of an invitation by Sky News’ and The Courier-Mail to appear at a televised peoples’ forum in Brisbane.
Media brands have been experimenting with Facebook’s video streaming feature since it was launched for selected accounts in August 2015, then rolled out to the broader public in April 2016.
Facebook Australia managing director Stephen Scheller said the social network wants “to connect as many Australians as possible to one of the most important aspects of any election campaign – a leadership debate”.
A live, high definition feed will be available to broadcasters while online publishers will be provided a Facebook Live module.
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