Tag Archives: channel 4

Let’s defend the underdog – Channel 4


If you’ve tuned your telly to Channel 4 recently, there’s a good chance you would have seen a dog in a suit, interviewing Channel 4 stars about the virtues of the channel. You can see the ‘Underdog’ advert here.

The underdog hears from the likes of Adam Hills and Jon Snow about how Channel 4 is able to offer alternative views and take risks, because of its not-for-profit status as a publically owned station.

So why does Channel 4 feel the need to advertise to justify its own existence?

The privatisation of Channel 4 is a genuine worry under a Tory government. The current culture secretary is right-winger John Whittingdale, who actually proposed privatising the channel as far back as 1996 with an amendment to the broadcasting bill. Reporting of Whittingdale’s appointment as culture secretary has focused on what this might mean for the BBC, but it is likely Channel 4 is firmly in his crosshairs too.

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A chance to take part in Channel 4/Shout Out Youth Leaders’ debate

We’ve been contacted by Shout Out, a news network for young people who are looking for audience members for a youth leaders’ debate they are holding a week on Tuesday, 28th April, at 8pm in Central London. It will be broadcast on All 4, Channel 4’s digital channel. Channel 4 News reporter Fatima Manji will chair the debate with representatives from the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, SNP and UKIP. Alex Harding, the Chair of Liberal Youth, will be our representative. The leaders will field questions on issues that matter to young people from a studio audience, made up entirely from voters aged 18-25, some of whom will be visiting the ballot box for the first time.

Matteo Bergamini, the founder of Shout Out UK said:

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A few quick thoughts on last night’s Dispatches

Channel 4’s Dispatches programme last night featured the attempts of one business man to give lots of money to Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The programme has already led to Liberal Democrat peer Paul Strasburger temporarily resigning from the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords pending an investigation from the Electoral Commission. Here are my thoughts on the programme:

Lib Dems should not keep this money – and we aren’t

My instincts on seeing the programme was that the donation that he has procured should be returned because the programme made clear that it didn’t come from the person whose name was on the cheque. That’s not to say that I think there was conclusive evidence of wrong-doing. The Electoral Commission will rule on that and we should let them do their job. What is clear is that the Federal Party had no way of knowing that the donation had come from anyone other than the name on the cheque. I was glad to see Olly Grender confirm on Twitter that we are not keeping the money. It will either go back to the donor or to the Electoral Commission. Guidance is awaited on that point.

Cash for access?

The programme certainly gave an insight into the world of political fund-raising with the businessman concerned Paul Wilmott being invited to events with senior figures from the three parties in fairly short order. This I think is a much bigger deal in the Labour and Conservative parties than it is in the Liberal Democrats. Let’s face it, I’ve had longer conversations with Vince Cable than Paul Wilmott did and I don’t have loads of money. Senior Liberal Democrats are much more accessible than the likes of Cameron and Miliband. Let’s face it, I saw a new member at her first conference in Liverpool last week meet Nick Clegg and chat to him 3 times in the first evening. Our senior figures also spend massive amounts of time supporting local party dinners and campaigning. If you turn up to go canvassing in a key seat, there’s every chance you might be out with one of our senior MPs or Lords. It’s not like the Tories where your position in the room at a dinner depends on how much you have paid for your ticket.

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Clegg on the Last Leg – first thoughts

Nick Clegg on the Last Leg2Well, I’d never seen The Last Leg before. I’ll be watching it again, though. It was very, very funny. And it’s not only trending on Twitter in the UK, it’s number 3 in the World.

There are two contradictory truths about Nick Clegg’s appearance on the show. His natural manner and willingness to engage in the banter while holding on (just) to his dignity has won him a lot of friends but I predict acres of snooty, disapproving newsprint tomorrow from people using words like “unbecoming for a Deputy Prime Minister.” Quentin Letts will probably have worked himself up into  a frenzy. I think the Cleggster has done himself a few favours though. A quick look down the #cleggleg thread on Twitter showed that he had impressed:

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Opinion: We must dismantle BBC to reform it

If the BBC has been feeling a little cursed of late it can at least feel blessed in having Rupert Murdoch as an enemy. For the truth is that the BBC and Murdoch need to each other to justify their own world view and block any threat to seriously reform either of their vast empires.

In much the same way as the Labour and Tory parties use each other’s existence to drown the genuinely radical voices out of British public life whilst they tinker at their edge of whichever of

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Fact Check factchecks the Fact Check quoters

Oops. Bit of, err…, over exuberance over on Labour List who ran the story:

Deficit caused by economic crisis, says Channel 4…
The Tories have spent most of the past year trying to establish a media narrative that says Labour are to blame for the deficit. Once they had acheived that, it was just a small step to argue that “austerity” was needed to fix problems “caused by Labour”. So it’s pleasing that Miliband’s defence of Labour’s economic record has been so swiftly vindicated by the respected Channel 4 factcheck.

There was one slight problem, as the update to the post reveals:


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Tories cry “foul” at Lib Dems’ fair hearing

More complaints about the Liberal Democrats and media bias – but this time it’s the Conservatives worried that when Liberal Democrats get equal billing, people like what they see.

From the Times:

The Conservatives complained to the programme makers three times during Monday night’s television debate between the candidates for Chancellor, accusing them of skewing coverage in favour of Vince Cable.

At one point during the Channel 4 Ask the Chancellors programme senior Tories phoned the hotline to the production staff claiming that the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman was receiving too much applause.

Yesterday the Conservatives warned broadcasters not to give the Liberal Democrats an easy ride in the leaders’ TV debates.

Although many were happy with the performance of George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, senior Conservatives, including David Cameron, were irritated by the way Mr Cable was able to present himself as a referee between two opponents rather than facing pressure over his own policy positions.

We’ve covered before the familiar problem of media bias against the Liberal Democrats, and explained how you can help.

So what happens when a Liberal Democrat does get an equal chance?

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LDVideo: Vince Cable’s best bits from Ask The Chancellors

Welcome to this latest LDVideo instalment, highlighting video clips from last night’s Ask The Chancellors debate on Channel 4.

Vince not only speaks the most sense but provokes the best reaction from the audience, getting more rounds of applause and even warm laughter.

On bank bonuses:

available on YouTube here.

I warned of the recession:

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Ask the Chancellors: live blog

Here are the verdicts on how it went:

Overall verdict

Very well chaired by Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Cable frequently got applause. Darling held his ground well, but Osborne often weak and looking shifty. No-one got in a killer blow that will shift lots of people’s views, but debate will have confirmed praise for Cable and doubts about Osborne.

You can watch again Vince’s opening and closing statements.

Other people’s verdicts

  • The audience: I make it 6 rounds of applause for Cable, 3 for Darling and 1 for Osborne
  • The journalists: “Audience pretty much unanimous cable won, hacks too privately, but many sticking to party lines in

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Cameron filmed confused and clueless in gay equality TV interview

Channel 4 tonight broadcast excerpts from a quite extraordinary filmed interview with David Cameron in which the Tory leader appears utterly confused and clueless about his party’s position on the issue of gay equality. After stumbling over his own words, contradicting himself, and admitting he hasn’t got the answer, a visibly flustered Mr Cameron eventually pleads for the cameras to be turned off so that he can compose himself.

Here’s the six-minute report in full:

(Also available on the Channel 4 website here).

That Mr Cameron has run into trouble on the issue of gay equality is wholly predictable. (That he went into meltdown in front of the TV cameras a little less predictable). Lib Dem Voice has on three occasions this year highlighted the many contradictions between what Mr Cameron says his party believes, and how the Tory party votes:

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No panic here, nothing to see, move along

Two different stories today, unconnected in one way but both – particularly when put together – speaking volumes for the current state of the Conservative Party. Obviously, panic or disagreements are in no way involved. Not at all.

First we have ConservativeHome’s take on the party starting to use YouGov in addition to Populus:

Up until now now the Cameron team has had only Populus telling them what the outside world was thinking. The intelligence from Populus was brought to them by the same team who run operations in the party’s marginal seats. In other words our marginal seats operation wasn’t

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Oaten reduced to tears in new Channel 4 documentary

The Sun reports today, with unsubtle snideness, on a new Channel 4 documentary, Tower Block Of Commons, in which ‘four pampered MPs were reduced to tears and tantrums when they swapped their grace and favour lifestyles for eight days living on a council estate.’

One of the MPs who took part is Lib Dem MP Mark Oaten, who is standing down at the next election. Here’s how the paper reports his experience:

In the first of the four-part series, the programme begins with Winchester MP Mark Oaten cleaning out his pool at his Hampshire pile and musing about what life on

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Televised party leader debates: get your worms at the ready

The “worm” is an instant poll tracker which wriggles across people’s TV screens, showing the net negative or positive reaction of a small group of the public to what is happening on screen. Running a worm across a politician’s speech or a debate between politicians has become a not uncommon feature of political coverage across many democracies.

The worm has even occasionally surfaced in the UK – so will it surface again for our TV party leader debates at the general election? And will worms offer a chance for Channel 4 to repeat an Australian trick and put one over the other channels who have excluded it from the debates?

Known in the US as dial groups (because a group of people is each given a dial to twist towards positive or negative), worms have often been the cause of controversy there. Joe Klein in Politics Lost recounts how badly they got the 2000 Bush-Gore debates wrong:

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Live from Vince’s crowded mantelpiece

We asked you to submit the coronation plans, and you did. Now, to the universal and overwhelming lack of surprise of the entire political world, Vince Cable has won the Channel 4 News Political Impact Award 2009, voted by C4 viewers. C4 has this:

Few politicians can reliably claim to have seen the recession coming, but Vince Cable is one of them.

The housing market bubble and the surge in household debt were among his key battlegrounds long before the credit started to crunch.

The collapse of British banks – and the subsequent recapitalisation process

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CommentIsLinked@LDV: James Graham on the Channel 4/YouGov poll of marginals

Over at the Channel 4 News politics website, Lib Dem blogger James Graham gives his brief take on the latest YouGov poll of Conservative-Labour marginals showing Labour on 36% (-2% since Oct ’08), the Tories on 43% (n/c) and the Lib Dems at 13% (+1%). Here’s an excerpt:

This poll tells us nothing about how the Lib Dems might be doing in terms of seats because of the constituencies chosen, but nonetheless it does give us some idea about how the party is doing in terms of fighting the ‘air war’. The headline figures show a small, albeit statistically insignificant,

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    One thing is for sure, and that is that the Middle East is an unholy mess. What do we want to see there? A Liberal...
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    A very good article Austin, and I agree with most of it. Your third point is why on balance I am against supporting proposals to...
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    Geoff, A good article and one with which I largely agree with. I might just make a small quibble though: "The Chancellor approaches economic policy...