All 6 entries tagged 18 Doughty Street

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January 25, 2007

Bad news for Doughty Street?

But it’s not all good news for the mainstream media either…

Research by OFCOM suggests that there’s little demand for services like 18 Doughty Street which have a deliberate bias.

Preliminary figures suggest somewhere in the region of 95% of people want their news and current affairs broadcasting to be impartial. 18 Doughty Street’s stated aim is to show the news and offer debate with a right-wing slant to it.

Trust in news

I understand the report will also show some interesting figures about trust in various news sources. While trust in BBC News, ITV News and especially Channel 4 News has fallen since 2002, the people’s trust in The Sun and Sky News has risen quite quickly.

Meanwhile, people say they’re fed-up of ‘celebrity’ news, but do actually like entertainment stories. Interestingly, people think there’s too much politics in the news, and would prefer to see more local stories.

And while television and radio tends to divide people according to their ethnic group (radio seems to be particularly bad at serving Asian audiences), newspapers are actually viewed as positively by Asian and Black people as the population as a whole.

18 Doughty StreetOne of the report’s authors, Ian Hargreaves, also thinks that while news websites are getting bigger audiences (27%), the internet might not be an adequate substitute for traditional sources, such as newspapers and television.

Radio in decline?

Finally, radio as a major source of news is in decline – perhaps surprisingly – falling from 59% to 52%. It’ll be interesting to see whether the commercial radio industry take this as a sign they need to invest more in news, or whether they see the trend as a reason to spend less.

All of the figures are preliminary and OFCOM will release its full report later in 2007.

The full report is due out later in the year.

November 13, 2006

Behind the scenes at 18 Doughty Street

I’m not going to tell you what 18 Doughty Street is. You either know already, or you can listen to my handy audio guide at the bottom of this entry! But last Wednesday I went behind-the-scenes at the world’s first online political TV channel, spoke to the people who created it, and ended up on air myself.

David Davis MP, being interviewed for 18 Doughty Street

18 Doughty Street is run by Iain Dale – one of Britain’s top bloggers and a member of the Conservative’s “A-List” of candidates for the next election. There’s around ten other people who seem to be full-time, and some others who mill around. I’m not entirely sure what they do, other than file expenses claims (maybe they’re all due in on Wednesdays).

“Other programmes have been pushed towards the edges…”

From lunchtime onwards they sort out the guests for that evening’s broadcast and decide on what stories they want to cover. While the channel began life with a large amount of variety, some of this has been sidelined in recent weeks and the schedule is based more firmly on studio discussion, with other programmes pushed towards the edges. I think this is a bit of a shame, but Iain and Co prefer the live formats. I think they’re planning a night of programming all about Gordon Brown’s Autumn budget statement, which seems like it could be overkill on what is essentially a dull subject.

The set of 18 Doughty Street - smaller than it looks!

Something which I felt was lacking from the proceedings was a Producer. Unless I’m mistaken there’s no-one (outside of the technical people) with any previous experience in television, and it shows. The hierarchy seems to end with Iain at the top, but he’d probably admit to not knowing much about putting together a TV show. I think some of the investment (for there is plenty of money here) should have gone on getting in a pro, who could control the process of making TV, as well as keeping an eye on the bank balance.

The gallery at 18 Doughty Street

The outfit does feel very professional though – they have seven or eight High-Definition cameras, not that they’re very useful when broadcasting online, and a freshly-painted front office.

“Phones are picked up with nervous excitement…”

The office is alive with political gossip. MPs are on the phone questioning the station’s stance on one issue or another, and the computer screensavers couldn’t be much more political if they tried. Phones are picked up with nervous excitement, although in one tragic incident, someone found it was a wrong number.

One of the presenters, Rena Valeh tells me it’s a constant battle to get more left-wing presenters on the channel. I’m given the impression that the Conservatives in charge would be happy if the socialists were banned altogether. As it is, they’re allowed on in order to ridicule their beliefs.

On the show with me is Simon Clark, a good speaker from Forest (the pro-smoking pressure group, funded by… yep, the tobacco industry), Jonathan Sheppard of Tory Radio and Barckley Sumner, the Deputy Editor of Tribune. I’d say the guests were weighted strongly in favour of the Right. While the numbers might be even, it seems more effort goes into getting the right-wingers than the lefties.

“Not for the first time, Ann Widdecombe caused a peak…”

And to the question of viewers? Well there’s a few jokes about how they’re getting lots of media interest but fewer viewers, and I tease out of them that no programme has had more than 10,000 viewers. Probably not for the first time, Ann Widdecombe caused the peak. I don’t think they know exact numbers, but I’d guess from viewer feedback they’re getting somewhere in the low hundreds a night, which isn’t much more than my blog.

But theirs is a bold and forward-thinking attempt to talk about politics without fear of talking over people’s heads. Soon they will have more user-generated content – I’d say the sooner, the better – with contributors ranging from the man on the street to the man in the Shadow Cabinet. They’re honest about their intentions, and I think they will open the door to imitators, so long as investment can be found.

In the short interview below, I ask Iain Dale and one of the other presenters, Donal Blaney, what the channel’s all about and what impact it might be having. My impression is that while its impact on politics may be small, especially as it is so partisan, its impact on broadcasting could be profound and may well outlast the channel itself.

November 08, 2006

A busy day

I’ve just come from the House of Commons where I met David Davis for a few minutes. He had some interesting views on bias in the BBC and the future of the House of Commons which I’ll upload when I’m back in the world of the normal.

I’m going live on 18 Doughty Street in under two hours (from 9pm until midnight), and we’ll be discussing the sacking/resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, the outcome of the US elections and whether Doughty Street itself might get yanked off air by the EU.

You can watch me it live at from 9pm. Other programmes start at 7.30. Do send in your comments too.

November 07, 2006

What Do I Think?

That is the question. Tomorrow I’ll probably be asked it several times as I (hopefully) make a guest appearance on 18 Doughty Street, the online political TV channel with a right-wing slant.

If everything goes to plan, I might be on some time after 9pm. I’m assuming we may be talking about the U.S. election results and I’d quite like to stick my ore in on the Farepak debacle, although the moment might have passed by then.

Being a generally right-wing channel, I’m not sure how much I will try to be a dissonant voice in a sea of Tory rhetoric!!! Should be fun anyway.

Do watch it and send some comments in so we have something to talk about! I’m hoping to have some behind-the-scenes photos to share with you next week.


I’m afraid it will be a quiet few days on the blog as I’m at the Student Radio Awards on Thursday night (which is linked to 18 Doughty Street’s Iain Dale in a roundabout way) and then I’m traveling around the UK all weekend. I’m staying with Adam who is apparently living in the 1980s and doesn’t have the internet. What a sorry state of affairs.


I’ve just noticed Firefox 2.0’s spell checker while writing the blog. How brilliant!?! Why anyone would carry on using Internet Explorer I don’t know.

October 11, 2006

Vox Politix with Iain Dale

I was pretty critical of 18 Doughty Street’s first night. It’s the new online TV channel covering politics from (largely) a right-wing angle.

I’ve only watched one show tonight, Vox Politix with Iain Dale and it’s much better. I think it’s the presence of a strong ‘alternative’ voice in the form of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who writes for the Independent.

Having said that, there’s a little too much deadwood. The two other guests and Iain’s co-presenters aren’t really getting a look-in, probably because they’ve not got that much to say.

While 18 Doughty Street wants to be biased, that would work much better if they get guests like Yasmin on more often, who doesn’t agree with the presenter like a nodding-dog (as happened regularly last night). Getting on guests with similar views to the guests just makes everyone look very smug.

My only remaining criticisms are the lack of titles, music and graphics, and the fact that it works equally well as radio as it does TV. Making it needlessly expensive. But full credit to those involved in this show – it’s pretty good tonight.

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

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.

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