Tuesday, August 27, 2002

IN A MOMENT, H AND CLAIRE. FIRST, HERE'S A WORD FROM MALCOLM RIFKIND: The Electoral Commission has published a consultation paper on the future of Party Election Broadcasts which, despite misgivings from broadcasters and regulators, is proposing that 'genre-based' channels be included in those networks which are obliged to carry party political broadcasts during election campaigns. This means that being sport or music based channels won't be a get out to stop you from having to carry fireside chats from Iain Duncan-Smith.
Now, I can imagine the shock and horror that is currently permeating Camden Lock at this moment, as they wonder how a five minute run through of endogenous growth is going to hit the audience for MTV - will the real world harm The Real World, but it might actually be good all round. First up, they're proposing cutting the length of the PEBs to one minute thirty (they currently run at two minutes forty, but just seem much longer), and at the moment channels like MTV Hits and Kerrang are running adverts which are half as relevant and twice as long - if the audience can cope with that stuff for cleaning decking and shoes, or about unlocking pensions they've probably not started earning, they'll almost certainly be able to cope with ninety seconds of politics. Second, as the Electoral Commission observe, the audiences who watch MTV (or Sky Sports One) are just the sort of people who probably opted out of the electoral process altogether last time round - anything that offers at least a prospect of reconnecting them with democracy has to be considered.
More importantly, it might lead both parties and stations to raise their game. Much has been made of MTV's supposed efforts to get young people interested in politics; at the last election this seemed to manifest itself solely in the form of a webdownload to make Tony Blair dance. Perhaps if they know their programming is going to have something a bit less patronising, they might lift their sights and sites a little. Likewise, having to grab a younger audience between Pink's cheeks and Robbie's bum may generate new ideas and better broadcasts in the parties' campaign HQs.
On the other hand, it could just be a huge switch-off as Tories in suits have a little chat in front of a row of leather-bound books about the Euro exchange rates.
But its got to be worth a try.

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