Thank you very much.
The Jamaica Debates Commission was formed in 2002. Our main purpose was to promote pre-election debate between the political parties so as to promote civil discourse, to defuse political tension, and to inform the public of the protagonists so that they could make informed decisions. The debates commission is a partnership between the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce—and Mr. Trevor Fearon here is the CEO of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce—and the Media Association Jamaica, which is a body composed of media house owners.
We established a “partnership at will” and we have now converted that into a registered legal entity. We are going to be applying for charitable status shortly. The Jamaica Debates Commission is run by six directors who are nominated, three from the chamber of commerce and three from the Media Association Jamaica.
How do we work? We operate under a strict code of conduct. We have developed ground rules and guidelines for debates conduct. We call on our media partners to provide the resources to stage the debates.
What have we done to date? We have organized political debates ahead of general elections in 2002, 2007, and 2011 and staged political debates ahead of local government elections in 2012 and 2016.
Typically, our debates are organized. We have three debates: one on social issues, one on economic issues, and one where the leadership of both parties debate each other. We also have team debates on local government elections.
Our debates are staged live events in studio settings with invited guests. We use moderators, who act as traffic cops, and a panel of journalists who pose questions to the protagonists. All telecasts are free to air, on TV and radio, and since 2007 we have been streaming via the Internet. Those who use our signals are obliged to broadcast exactly as received. We do that because we're supported and funded by sponsors from the private sector. In breaks in the debate we insert their advertisements, their promotional material, so we want those who rebroadcast the signal to use it exactly in that form.
During a debate, we set up a debate watch in various communities where we encourage the people in the community to look at the debate, to record their impression, and to discuss it after the debate has been completed. We also have done polls after the debates to see how effective they are, with some interesting results to date. We also have post-debate debriefings and we report back to our sponsors as to how we have spent the money that they entrusted with us to provide these debates.
Those are my key points.