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Election debates must be “equitable,” but anyone can host them, says CRTC

NDP Leader Jack Layton, left to right, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff debate during the French language federal election debate in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 13, 2011. The Conservative party wants to increase the number of election debates, but also change who gets to host them.
NDP Leader Jack Layton, left to right, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff debate during the French language federal election debate in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 13, 2011. The Conservative party wants to increase the number of election debates, but also change who gets to host them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA – The country’s broadcast regulator says it’s not going to stand in the way of changes to the way federal election debates are conducted, so long as all the major parties get equitable news coverage.

This comes after the Conservative party opened the door this week to competing offers from individual networks to host the debates.

WATCH: Tom Clark discusses Tories trying to call the shots on election debates

The move effectively ends the monopoly over the political contests previously enjoyed by a broadcast consortium made up of CTV, the CBC and Global TV.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says it doesn’t require any specific broadcaster to host a debate.

READ MORE: Conservative campaign spokesman calls media consortium ‘entitled’

In fact, a CRTC policy adopted in 1995 says that electoral debates don’t even have to include all of the political party leaders.

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In a statement released Tuesday, Conservative party spokesman Kory Teneycke said his party had accepted proposals from TVA and Maclean’s-Rogers to host two separate debates some time before the fixed election date of Oct. 19.