No Cable Required to Watch the Democratic Debate

When it kicks off on Dec. 19, the third Democratic debate will be available for streaming on ABC News' website and mobile app. Many people have forgotten that ABC is a public network, broadcast over public airwaves. This allows all television owners to simply access the channel on an everyday basis, even if they don't cable. The final primary debate of the year will involve candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley, all of whom will gather at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Unlike Republican candidates such as Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, among others, the Democratic candidates have successfully avoided insulting each other and the moderators during their past debates. Although I prefer a civilized debate in which the candidates discuss policy-based issues, the Dems' focus on substance over controversy has potentially played a role in low viewer ratings.

The last Democratic debate, which was hosted by CBS in November, attracted the lowest number of viewers so far, drawing in 8.5 million viewers. In comparison, the GOP's debate that same month attracted more than 13 million. Since the upcoming event will also be aired on a Saturday (as opposed to a weekday, when more people are tuning in), we can expect ABC to make up for lost time (and viewers) and try to garner some hype.

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The Democratic National Committee has already attracted the attention of the press by retracting its offer to New Hampshire's television station WMUR to host the debate alongside ABC. DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement that the station failed to handle a labor dispute correctly:

Regrettably, as a result of WMUR’s unwillingness to move forward on scheduling negotiations between the Hearst Corporation and Production Department employees represented by IBEW Local 1228 prior to the debate, we will no longer include WMUR as a co-sponsor of the debate, and their talent will not be participating in any way ... The right for workers to form and organize a union is a key principle of the Democratic Party, and is key to ensuring the economic safety of the American people by protecting their rights and benefits.

Thus, the final debate will be available via ABC only, and will be hosted by ABC "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir and ABC's chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz.