Are We Due Partiality?

Deep in right-wing discussion – filming ‘Right On’ in the Telegraph TV studio

Toby Coaker

What do the ambitions of Telegraph TV tell us about our readiness for prejudiced  broadcasting?

That News Corps will, in due course, ‘Foxi-fy’ Sky News output is as much a worry as the internet eventually undermining the BBC’s role as the UK’s premier political broadcaster.

And by ‘the Internet’, in this instance I mean Telegraph TV and Guardian Video. Back in 2008, the Telegraph Media Group’ s new Digital Director, Ed Roussel, predicted the future of news on the internet as a combination of ‘text, video, and user-generated content’.

He was right. Journalism is no longer divided in to separate mediums operated by certain organisations. The BBC, ITV, Sky…. plus many national and local newspapers have created their own well-developed crossover platforms.

Broadcasters no longer just broadcast, as writers no long just print. Will they begin to compete for the same, homogenous audience?

Initially, this seems doubtful. The best broadcast journalists choose to work for the BBC or ITV because they encourage and support award-winning story-telling.

In contrast, the commentary on a Telegraph TV package is far more dry and practical. It is an exchange of information rather than a stretch of emotions (and an audience needs the latter). It is, then, simply a supplement to its USP – its written journalism. When it comes to covering politics or foreign affairs, then, these newspaper’s online video journalism is not there to entertain.

Well, perhaps not anymore. When it launched in 2007, Telegraph TV realised that what it could offer to British broadcasting was a political bias. From the title onwards, flagship vodcast ‘Right On’ allowed presenters Ann Widdecombe and Andrew Pierce to take an unashamedly right-wing perspective on current political affairs.

It ran for one series in 2008, the same year that Rousel boasted in an interview with The Independent of the demand for Telegraph TV to be broadcast in gyms or on airline flights.

A quick browse of the website today shows the demise of such aspirations. Type ‘Right On’ in to Google and you’ll be guided to what comes across as an awkward monument to a once grand design.

Can we conclude that the British audience is disinterested (or at least unprepared) for politically biased broadcasting? In 2011, there are prejudices in newspaper’s video journalism – but they’re subtle. Patrick B
lower’s (The Guardian) recent cartoon, for instance:

So pray, those Britons anxious of a Murdochian revolution in politically biased broadcasting, take the struggles of The Telegraph as an example of our (current) hostility towards prejudiced ‘TV’.

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