Congressional Leaders Will Debate on Live National Broadcast of PBS DEBATE NIGHT, October 2, 2000

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Senators Chuck Hagel, Harry Reid and Representatives David Bonior, J.C. Watts face off on election issues October 15; Local debates follow on 40 PBS stations

Which party should control the 107th Congress? And will it support the new president's platform? Four leading members of the current Congress debate these questions and more, both locally and nationally, on Sunday, October 15th at 7 pm EDT during PBS Debate Night.

Making the case for the Republicans will be Representative J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, the chair of the House Republican Conference, and Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. Speaking for the Democrats will be Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid of Nevada and House Minority Whip David Bonior of Michigan.

All four have agreed to an hour long, informal debate produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. Margaret Warner and Gwen Ifill, senior correspondents for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, will moderate the live debate in Washington.

PBS Debate Night is the only national forum for congressional leaders to present their party's differences on subjects such as education, the federal budget surplus, Social Security and Medicare.

"PBS Debate Night provides a forum to discuss the important issues facing the American people," said Dan Werner, president of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. "In the midst of the Presidential campaign we believe it is important and valuable to focus on the Congress."

Following the one-hour broadcast, 40 public television stations and statewide networks will provide forums for local candidate and issue debates. The local debates, which complement the national debate broadcast, are a key component of the PBS Democracy Project, an initiative that provides distinctive and engaging local and national public affairs coverage to encourage expanded civic discourse. This PBS Debate Night is the third biennial presentation of local and national congressional debate programming on PBS stations. PBS Debate Night is a production of the Public Broadcasting Service and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. The national special is underwritten by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS Viewers. The local broadcasts are made possible by CPB through the PBS Democracy Project.

MacNeil/Lehrer Productions produces programming for PBS, cable and commercial broadcast network television, including The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, which is seen five nights a week on more than 330 public television stations across the country. M/LP also produced PBS's coverage of the 2000 Republican and Democratic National Conventions and will produce PBS Debate Night, scheduled to air on October 15, 2000. Other recent M/LP productions include "Empire of the Bay," the history of the Hudson's Bay Company, narrated by Robin MacNeil, and David Hare's "Via Dolorosa," both of which aired on PBS; and "Shoot Not To Kill: Non-Lethal Weapons" for the Discovery Channel. It recently aired the highly acclaimed "Debating Our Destiny."


Sara Hope Franks
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

Rob Flynn
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer