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Saturday, October 04, 2008


Sent to BBC, ITV, STV, Channel 4, Channel 5

"If you are looking for popular & inexpensive programming may I suggest that you produce a regular series of debates on political subjects. A formal 1 hour debate is a well established format & should be even cheaper to produce than the relatively popular Any Questions format, It would fulfil the public service remit.

If subjects on which there is genuine popular political interest were to be selected & a genuine debate between really differing viewpoints were to be permitted a very large audience could be almost guaranteed, for its time slot.

There are many possible subjects but I would suggest:

Global Warming, future energy (the BBC did do one a couple of years ago but chose to have it between 2 people who wanted more windmills & 2 who wanted nothing but windmillery which spoiled it), the Iraq war, the death penalty, EU membership, Scottish independence, raising or lowering taxes, immigration, corporation tax & growth, the smoking ban.

It would be possible to have voting either by people phoning in or by you contacting 100 of the members of the public you are already using for viewer assessments.

I am sure this would have the effect of reducing political apathy. It would be cynical to suggest that is why it has not been done decades ago."

The point here is that the "presenter" media culture acts as a filter to political debate ensuring that (A) new ideas just don't get debated & perhaps even more insidiously (B) anything discussed does get boiled down to a one phrase soundbite. Serious politics cannot be done like that & the effects are evident everywhere. A one hour debate is a very well developed format & would fit TV extremely well.

Before the round takes place, the teams are designated as either the Affirmative or the Negative. The two teams are then given three topics from which to choose. The Affirmative is given first strike which means that they remove one of the topics from the list. The Negative then is left with two topics to choose from, and will choose which topic they wish to argue by again using their strike and removing the topic they do not wish to talk on. The two teams will then have fifteen minutes to formulate the case they wish to present. At the end of the fifteen minutes the teams reconvene and begin the debate.

Leader Affirmative: 7 minutes

Leader Negation: 8 minutes

Member Affirmative: 8 minutes

Member Negation : 8 minutes

Leader Negation Rebuttal: 4 minutes

Leader Affirmative Rebuttal: 5 minutes

Maybe time for a couple of public questions or judge's comments. A phone in viewer vote could also be done & broadcast later like lottery results or Crimewatch. Seeing how phone ins work for Big Brother this would be likely to make the programme production cost hegative. While a moderator is required their role is formal & would not require a "celebrity presenter" to interpret for us hoi polloi. A very inexpensive form of TV more real than the increasingly highly staged "reality TV" & at least to me, far more interesting. I am quite certain that it would get a far higher audience per buck than most UK TV which indeed raises the suspicion that it would have the effect of reducing political apathy & that is why it has not been done decades ago

Channel 5 sent a friendly if unsubstantive reply. ITV sent an acknowledgement. The BBC & C4 who are both officially supposed to be "public service broadcasters" didn't even acknowledge which tends to reinforce my suspicion. A couple of years ago BBC Scotland did indeed broadcast a debate entitled Scotland's Energy Future. They chose 2 speakers in favour of more windmills & 2 in favour of nothing but windmillery which gives a fair example of how the BBC censor real political debate.

Have also mentioned this on John Redwood's blog.

I wanted to email this to you but you don't have an email listed. The free marketeers here in the US were able to get language inserted into the 2000 housing act requiring that the Federal department of Housing and Urban Development establish a research center studying how much of the price of a house is derived from regulations. This research center is called the Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse. Here is the wikipage for the clearinghouse, there is a link to it on the wikipage.
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