Trendspotting #23

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The Independent Online
ITV KEEPS THE REGIONS IN THEIR PLACE

If you live in the south-west or north-east of England, the north of Scotland, the Borders, Wales or Northern Ireland then look out of the window now. What you see is something people in the rest of the country who watch a lot of ITV won't be seeing. Because despite ITV's claims to guarantee regional diversity, a report by the Independent Television Commission shows that those regions produced just 8.2 per cent of ITV's network programming. This compares with the 50.4 per cent of network programmes made by just London and Manchester. If Newcastle or Bristol want to get on network ITV it may have to be on the news. Anyone for a riot?

ORDER, ORDER ... THE MEDIA'S ORDER OF PRIORITIES

Civilisation as we know it is apparently threatened if Radio 4 makes any changes to Yesterday in Parliament. But it would be a wondrous thing indeed if at any time over the last 25 years politicians had paid a little more attention to what was happening to the press's coverage of the big issues. Fully 30 per cent of all tabloid news coverage is human interest or showbusiness stories - even for the whole of the media including TV, radio and the broadsheets these two are still the biggest categories, taking up almost 18 per cent of the all the news that is deemed fit to print. According to research by Loughborough University just 7 per cent of all media coverage between October 1996 and March 1997 was about political parties - and this in the run-up to the general election. Issues such as social security and housing got less than 1 per cent of the media's attention. Despite Mrs Boothroyd's assertion that "millions" are concerned about Yesterday in Parliament, the programme looks increasingly an irrelevance in any "dumbing down" debate.

HANG IT, A GOOD CRIME STORY WILL ALWAYS SELL

In one respect the Loughborough report shows how little the media has changed. Crime reporting amounts to 16.6 per cent of all media coverage and is the highest category of reporting for broadsheets (17.8 per cent), television (18.1) and radio (14.8) news. Only showbusiness beats it into second place in the tabloids (18.5). Crime's importance in the media has remained a constant ever since the eighteenth-century "gallowsheets", which preceded newspapers, told you who'd been hung each week and what for.

Paul McCann

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