A coalition of broadcasters says that Britain's three major political parties have agree to participate in an unprecedented series of U.S.-style television debates.

The BBC and Sky News television said Monday that the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties had agreed to three live televised debates before the country's general election, which must be called by the middle of next year.

They would be the first such debates in Britain, where verbal sparring between politicians is usually limited to Parliament's weekly question-and-answer session.

Media commentators have credited the U.S. presidential contest pitting Barack Obama against John McCain with whetting Britons' appetite for American-style debates.