When Britain's snap General Election was announced this month an army of newsmen moved into action to provide a complete blow-by-blow coverage of the campaign for television, radio and newspapers.
When Britain's snap General Election was announced this month an army of newsmen moved into action to provide a complete blow-by-blow coverage of the campaign for television, radio and newspapers. The politicians have been making the most of the opportunity. Despite the comparatively short duration allowed for campaigning, there are reports that more media coverage has been generated in this election than ever before.
Between them, the newsman and the politicians have done a thorough job. Reuters was reporting last week that excessive politics on television was "turning off" millions of viewers -- or more properly, causin millions of viewers to turn off their television sets.
The main national television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation is devoting about two hours each night to news, features and discussion programmes about the election. The other major channel, Independence Television, has also increased its election coverage. And, ??? ???, the three main parties take it in turns to present ten-minute political broadcasts, which are put out simultaneously on all television channels.
These 'Party Political Broadcasts' have, themselves, become the centre of controversy. Recently, the Labour Party complained strongly about a Conservative Party broadcast which suggested that the Labour Party was -- if returned to power -- planning on a sweeping series of nationalisation moves. The Labour Party has also protested about another Conservative party film suggesting that the Labour Party is beset by devisive ???ons.
The Welsh Nationalist Movement, Plaid Cymru, has also complained about the Party Political Broadcasts. Today (Monday, 25 February), Plaid Cymru is seeking a High Court injunction restricting such broadcasts by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Parties. Plaid Cymru allege that their own Party Political Broadcast -- scheduled to go out tomorrow -- has been re-scheduled.
Although British politicians have long resisted televising Parliamentary debates, the party leaders seem in no doubt that television is the key to wining this election. They also compete on a well-regulated basis for other media coverage.
Perhaps the most pertinent remark of the campaign so far came from one independent candidate who declared: "The first party to give up party political broadcasts will win hands down". There are even serious reports that the recent upswing in support for the minority Liberal Party -- at the expense of both the Labour and Conservative parties -- has been because the Liberals have devoted less time to immoderate attacks on the personalities involved in the election.
Jeremy Thorpe, the Liberal leader, speaks to newsmen daily by closed-circuit television link.
Lord Carrington, the Conservative Party's ???rman, described to newsmen the details of a Conservative Party ele??? broadcast to which the Labour Party had objected.
At the Labour Party's news conference Ron Hayward, the Labour Party's Secretary General, attacked another Conservative Party broadcast, during which it had been suggested that the Labour Party was planning to introduce a series of nationalisation moves.