Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Unequal time

Just looking at the BBC's online election coverage is instructive. Here is the umbrella webpage and this is the candidates page. Would it have hurt the BBC to have at least hyperlinked party names? Or to give some sort of link through to a contact page of candidates (all that would be required would be one staffer to write/email asking for details and then updating the links). Looking at the hours of local radio output available on BBC London is noticeable that politics or current affairs are not listed as genres (they are, after all, not the same as news). Would it be impossible for BBC local radio to put out a couple of hours of broadcast dedicated to the election, which will take in over 7 million voters? If democracy is marginalised in the public space, then its not surprising that people feel uninvolved. It's bad enough that the mayoral race dominates, with its personality driven agenda, but that it's hogging the tiny slice of time given to coverage of elections means electors are denied a real chance to find out what range of options there are out there for them. In an election where there is no free mail out, which costs a thousand pounds just to contest, where each constituency is half a million strong, it would not be unreasonable to expect a public broadcaster to give more attention and effort. After all, our total airtime during the Euro elections was about 20 seconds of a quote taken out of context.

Democracy, if it is at all meaningful, is the right of minorities to have the opportunity to become majorities. The democratic structures in this country privilege established majorities and support an entrenched oligarchy.

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