Lord Grade, former head of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, has accused the broadcasters (along with Sky) of ‘playing politics’ with their threat to film an empty chair if prime minister David Cameron fails to turn up to their debates.
Writing in The Times Grade warned that without Cameron the debates ‘cannot go ahead’, remarking: "Ah, I hear the broadcasters retort, that would give one party leader a veto on any broadcast. Yes it would, and so what?"
Grade went on to label the threatened use of an empty chair as a "political act, in direct contravention of [the broadcasters'] duty of impartiality".
An increasingly bitter war of words has broken out between party leaders over the issue after Cameron said he would only take part in one televised debate, snubbing a further two televised face-offs.
The sequence of question and answer sessions are scheduled to commence in April with two set to include the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, UKIP and the Greens whilst a third battle focusses on Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband alone.
Previously Cameron issued a ‘final offer’ in which he committed to take part in one debate amongst the seven leaders, but only if it was broadcast prior to 30 March.