BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Michael Crick
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Broadcasters face challenge navigating way through new political landscape

Michael Crick | 16:34 UK time, Tuesday, 11 May 2010

If a coalition government involving the Lib Dems and the Conservatives comes to fruition it will produce severe problems for broadcasters in the allocation of airtime.

In the past we have frequently included a Lib Dem voice, and held three-way discussions on programmes such as Newsnight.

With a coalition that will be difficult. The danger from the Lib Dems' point of view is that they may now only appear on TV when one of their ministers is involved.

Three-way discussions may become a thing of the past, since there would be no three-way division of opinion.

And if we had three people in the studio then Labour would say that the government has two voices - Conservative and Lib Dem - and the opposition - Labour - only one.

Such a situation would also be good news for Labour, since unlike the main opposition party hitherto, they won't have to share their opposition status with a third party.

There's no precedent on this. The last time we had a peacetime coalition was before the broadcasting age.

This could prove a much more difficult issue for the broadcasters than organising the TV debates.


  • Comment number 1.

    The main challenge facing Broadcasters will remain: to eschew partisan sensationalism, get the facts right and report them in a dispassionate manner that seeks to inform public opinion rather than direct it.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think broadcasters are going to face far bigger problems - more attacks on the BBC licence fee, ownership rules relaxed even more so the people who ruined the local newspaper industry can buy TV and radio. You won't have to worry about who to interview if you're on strike!

  • Comment number 3.

    There isn't a problem. You could actually start including some other parties for a change. I understand Plaid Cymru, SNP, Northern Irelands parties, and now, Caroline Lucas from the Greens have opinions.

  • Comment number 4.

    A more pressing problem for broadcasters is they do need to up their game and maintain the standards of political neutrality that we have come to expect.

    The standard of coverage during the election was governed by law but after that the BBC and Sky standards have become disturbingly unbalanced.

    On Sky we have seen bizzare behaviour towards a Fair Votes demonstrator, badgered into silence by aggressive questioning. We have seen Adam Boulton get hot under the collar with Ed Balls and then yesterday apparently losing his composure and being reminded by Alastair Campbell that he was in fact on live TV.

    We have also seen you on Sky as an interviewee in your true colours, which make the neutrality of your Newsnight appearances lose credibility. Obviously the BBC standards have been rather more balanced but the frustratiion of some of its political correspondents at not seeing their hero march straight into No 10 have become increasingly evident. But you can all calm down now and get some sleep.

  • Comment number 5.

    Probably best to get Kevin Maguire, Iain Dale and Caroline Lucas on aaaaaalll the time, being such representative voices of... who now?

    Not that anyone would notice the change.

  • Comment number 6.

    And isn't the logical conclusion of this dilemma that the Lib Dems, at the next election, won't have anything to say?

  • Comment number 7.

    "There's no precedent on this"? What a ridiculous statement. There is plenty of precedent from the Scottish Government during the Labour-Lib Dem coalition. Talk to your colleagues in BBC Scotland.

    One thing this election has exposed is the basic ignorance and intellectual laziness of many high-profile political commentators.


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