Posted by: John | December 16, 2008

Is the party talking twaddle about talk?

In an otherwise serviceable article I tested out a theory that is becoming increasingly meme-like in the Liberal Democrat firmament – that most people get their news (or rather take the news that they think about) away from the BBC.

After a bit of testing I can say this is really only half-true. On the LGBT social networking site OUTeverywhere i did a couple of polls.

The first was:

`Which media source do you mainly turn to when finding out news`:

BBC – 16

ITV – 3

Cable News (not BBC) – 1

Internet – 6

Channel 4 – 1

Channel 5 – 0

Commercial Radio – 1

Newspaper – 4

Thus we see from this small group of people 50% said BBC.

On another question I asked:

Picture the scene – it’s a national emergency and everyone is asked to `stand by their beds`and turn on the media. Which station would you turn on? Each station has its own commentators discussing this emergency`.

The figures were stark:

BBC TV – 59

ITV – 2

Channel 4 – 2

BBC National Radio – 13

Internet – 3

Stay on OUT and watch the thread – 4

Thus when it came to life and death situations about 85% would turn to the BBC! What this tells us is that when it comes to casual concerns ie when the news is part of the backdrop of life there’s a mixed picture with the BBC coming up with 50% of the audience. Once the news is THE feature of life (ie 9/11) and I would argue under the economic tsunami it’s on occasions been in between these two the BBC is overwhelmingly preferred to other media.

This suggests, and what i’ve suspected all along, that in terms of ESTEEM and TRUST the BBC still has the ear of the nation for the really important facts of life.

One wonders then about Alison’s statement:

`Clegg’s counter to that danger has been his deliberate effort get out of the Westminster village. If plagiarism is the highest form of flattery, we know from Mr. Cameron’s attempts that our Leader’s ‘town meetings’ are working. We are, at last, re-discovering the strategy first promoted by the ’92 General Election Team of actively generating local and regional media coverage through top-to-bottom integrated campaigning (done then by funding Regional Media Coordinators and coordinating national tours around agreed campaigning themes).`

I’m not suggesting that he shouldn’t get out of the `Westminster village` – the idea though that you can gain traction outside election times by simply going on talk radio and Radio Lancashire I think is fanciful.

Underlining all this and notwithstanding the amazing work done by Vince, Tim Farron (Farming programmes), Lynne Featherstone (Westminster Hour) etc and I HAVE noticed that there’s been some changes at the BBC we seem to be ducking a huge issue: how to ensure that 3 narratives are played out equally on the BBC.

Something’s got to give – either

i) We have a campbellite figure that bangs his/her fist on the table and shouts/talks/cajoles smartly the different people in that establishment – in which case the activists need to know about this so that we can co-ordinate our efforts to gain further traction or:

ii) We DON’T have such a figure and the activists need to do more to ensure it happens.

This only leaves one further question – are the rules governing the BBC at the moment just and fair or do they just confirm establishment ideas about two-party systems. Let’s face it most journalists, even BBC ones, are lazy. You can feed them as many good stories as you want, cajole them as much as you want etc etc but at the end of the day WE NEED TO CHANGE THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT SO THAT WE HAVE AN AUTOMATIC RIGHT TO THREE WAY FIGHTS.

It’s no good badgering on about more leaflets, more canvassing etc etc – we can do all these things. The problem comes when peoples minds are then swayed by the Tory/Lab fight. Every time the BBC puts on an article about the Economy featuring JUST Lab/Tory is an amount of time stolen from activists lives and votes taken from the Liberal Democrats. The fact that the BBC didn’t have the imagination to do a couple of hours programming in the economic tsunami allowing three parties to lay out their stalls with LSE people to hand and bloggers speaks volumes. When it comes to the Liberal Democrats and politics as a whole the BBC lacks imagination and the ability to cope with new ideas. What were WE doing incidentally allowing this to happen!

Unless we fight for ourselves – who else is? Is it time to go to the barricades over the `political balance` rules of the BBC?

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