Minicos: The Leader’s Debate and that

19 Apr

Oh my stupid head. I’ve got words in my head that need to leave and get on this tiny netbook screen in front of me, but it ain’t happening. Writer’s block, I think it’s called. Others might call it incessant chatter behind me. One of the guys I work with is telling another guy I work with about how him and his missus go to the Bingo, and buy coffee tables. I want to remove his mouth with a shotgun. Moving on…

I was going to write a little something about the Leader’s debate that was on ITV (or STV or UTV depending on location) last week, but I am struggling. For one thing, the fall out from it has been discussed at great length by everybody over the weekend. Yes, Nick Clegg won, quite convincingly, as the polls and pundits are saying. Yes, David Cameron had a little bit of a nightmare. If anything, he looked as if he worried too much about his image, which went on to… ruin his image. You know how it is when you’re playing pool, and you think really hard about the shot, and then you miss by a mile? That, but on telly. Yes, Gordon Brown was there. I’m told. I can’t remember anything he said.

But you know what? I got stuck on a really minor, twatty detail. And I KNOW it’s small and twatty. In fact, it’s not even small and twatty, it’s not even that big, but it is a pet hate. The show was titled the “First Leader’s Debate”, yet there were no mentions of the second or third ones. It was if they didn’t exist. Any particular reason? Because they’re not on ITV. This phenomenon is not exclusive to political debates, I might add. During the football World Cup, for instance, where the games are split between the BBC and ITV, we the viewer know that games are on both sides, yet each broadcaster maintains a bizarre pretense that they are the only channel around, and that as far as you the viewer are concerned, the games on the other side don’t exist. If it wasn’t so fucking bizarre, it would be insulting to the intelligence.

Yes, I appriciate there is an argument that TV channels by and large don’t want to actively drive audiences to their competitors. Usually, they don’t. I can understand why the BBC, for instance, don’t have a continutity announcer telling the viewers over the credits of Eastenders that Coronation Street is about to start, and that they should immediately switch over to ITV. This is because these programs are relatively passive things – you either watch them regularly through enjoyment or habit or because there’s nothing else to do. Events such as the leader’s debate and the World Cup are special events that fall outside punters regular viewing habits, and as such, people are more likely to be watching them with interest than just as a result of channel hopping. It therefore stands to reason, surely, that if ITV were to have said “Oh, by the way, the next one’s half an hour earlier, and it’s on Sky News next week”, they weren’t going to have lost viewers – those who wanted to watch it would have done anyway (and would have been thankful to ITV for saving them spending time looking it up). Instead, by pretending that they’re the only game in town makes me suspect that I’m going to enjoy the Sky and BBC presentations a little bit more. Unless, of course, they employ the same idea, and deny that the ITV one ever happened. In that instance, I’m chucking the laptop through the telly.

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