I get news mostly from online newspapers, and I tend towards the barest reports. As a result, whenever I see television news, I’m shocked and put off by the heavy slant it carries.
But my shock this evening was more than usual. Watching Channel 4 news, what struck me for the first time was that Channel 4 appeared to have a more clearly defined and clearly expressed position on the issue they were reporting than did any of the politicians they were interviewing.
But why should that be surprising? Channel 4 has more resources to devote to policy than does any political party. Channel 4 spends 54 million pounds a year on news, documentary and current affairs programming. The two main parties each spend something like 10 million a year, but most of that is spent not on “content”, but on content distribution – posters, leaflets, etc.
British political parties’ policies are being constructed on an almost totally amateur basis, compared to the media – and I think it shows. There are think tanks, but I don’t think they turn over tens of millions a year.
I’m not sure what conclusion to draw from this. In the US they spend a lot more on politics, but don’t seem to get noticeably better policies. But my attitude towards politicians when I hear them is likely to change.
Reference for channel 4 finances: http://www.channel4.com/about4/annualreport/annualreports/index.html page 47