October 10, 2006

A new dawn for British television

We’ve entered a scary new age of television… From tonight, a British television channel is broadcasting which promises to be completely biased, something that we’ve never seen before. You’re not allowed to do this sort of thing on real television, so 18 Doughty Street is broadcasting online at http://www.18doughtystreet.com

So how is it?

(20:06) We’re off, with a ‘news’ bulletin. In reality, only 20% of what we’re being told is actually ‘news’, and the rest is opinion. It comes as a bit of a reality shock to hear the news being presented this way, and to be honest I’m not sure it works. It’d be nice to see the opinion after the bulletin, not during it. The first show is hosted by Tim Montgomerie, founder of the ConservativeHome website.

(20:08) There’s a distinct lack of on-screen graphics. Either they’ve got some technical problems or haven’t learnt much from traditional media. Additionally, the sound quality is interesting and it’s nothing to do with the live streaming. It took a few minutes to get it to sound right – the acoustics in the studio don’t sound great. We’re into the discussion part of the programme now and it’s all quite Newsnight, really. Nothing that revolutionary.

(20:11) The two guests on this programme aren’t brilliant – I can’t tell you who they are because of the lack of graphics. There seems to be a real danger that the panellists will be chosen simply because they agree with the right-wing host, and just make him look cleverer. The deliberate bias in the programme is in danger of making the host more than just a facilitator. Maybe that’s deliberate, but it makes him less authoritative and seem more egotistical.

(20:16) They’ve moved onto Korea. It seems a little strange to use the same guests on different stories when they don’t necessarily know all that much about it. It’s like an extended newspaper review, but without the papers.

(20:19) I hope no-one will be offended if I say this isn’t much better than WarwickTV could do, considering how much £££££ has been spent on this and the fact WTV works on a shoe-string. Camera angles are a bit strange.

Financially, will this work? I doubt it. It seems to be funded solely by 50p-per-text messaging at the moment, although I’m sure they’d be hoping to show TV adverts in the future. I don’t know who’d want to advertise here though. Technically I don’t doubt the quality will improve (the webstreaming is very good, by the way), but still the deliberate bias isn’t very “British” and might struggle.

(20:22) Ooh.. it’s getting interesting. They’re talking about BBC and Channel 4 bias now. They’ve had their first mug text, and it wasn’t all that illuminating.

(20:23) Montgomerie’s not given any examples of how the Beeb is biased. He’s told us the sort of questions they wouldn’t ask (which actually I think they would).

(20:25) We’re on to the first clip from an ‘at-home’ reporter, who actually likes the BBC (mostly). Woah… appalling sound problems. They nearly blew my speakers there. Right, we can hear them again. I’m wondering if the questions and answers are pre-planned. Montgomerie’s last question sounded more like he was throwing his guest a pre-prepared bone than a serious question.

(20:27) Everyone’s agreeing with each other. It’s all a lovely love-in, but not very interesting TV. You definately don’t see Jeremy Paxman talk so sweetly to his guests, but here it seems to be the norm. And now we’re complaining that there’s no “good news from Iraq”. Er… is that cos there isn’t any? No, apparently not.

(20:30) If I was a BBC journalist and wrote the sort of copy that 18 Doughty Street seems to think occurs daily, I’d be sacked. I think they’re hearing things that simply aren’t there.

(20:33) It’s World View with a look at foreign affairs next. Hmm… no titles though, and only a blank screen while they change presenters over in their one studio. It all seems very rushed.

(20:34) Woah… we crash into World View halfway through a sentence and after some painful speaker-blasting noise. So far, everyone on screen (bar one) has been male. Not very inclusive, and potentially appealing only to a very small (Tory) clique. The collection of posh blokes makes the studio seem very crowded. Unfortunate choice of sofas (it’s the same set as the previous show).

(20:35) Okay, I’m afraid I can’t manage any more. Poor choice of guests and very similar to the previous show. We need a break from the studio-based programme, otherwise it’ll be like 4 hours of biased Newsnight. Why not put together a half-hour pre-recorded show to break things up a bit? I might tune in for Iain Dale’s show later, but that’s it for me at the moment.

Okay, I’ve had a few minutes to think about this and I’ve realised what the problem with tonight’s programming has been.

It would make much more sense if it was radio. There’s no need to see anything that we’re hearing, especially if it’s going to be “talk radio, with pictures”. Why not do just radio. It’d be a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to consume.

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. As it’s marketing itself as a political station intending to have a bigger conservative bias than any news programme on TV could get away with, surely it’s feasible that they don’t seperate the opinion from the news? What I find quite exciting about 18 Doughty Street, is, obviously, the internet thing- but more specifically, the way it’s a development from the trend we’ve been seeing of blogs becoming the latest vehicle for news. It’s as though there’s a merging of TV and blog culture, as blogs play a significant role in 18DS- and the point of blogs is that they are opiniated rants, surely? It’s just making the blog bigger and in an online TV format. And I think because what they’re aiming towards is something pro-blog and technological, TV is a more interactive and appropriate medium for them to use- but granted, they do need to improve the quality of the graphics.
    The only thing I have a problem with is that it’ll offer the general public yet more tory nonsense, but hopefully the lefties will bite back sooner or later with a more socialist (and far better) version. That’s just my ever-so-biased opinion though, not objective reporting, but hey, that’s what blogs- and 18 Doughty Street- are all about :)

    11 Oct 2006, 00:38

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