TV fakes row hits `Right to Reply'

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DOUBTS OVER the truthfulness of factual television programmes were highlighted again yesterday when the viewers' response programme Right to Reply was accused of trying to manufacture outrage.

A freelance journalist claims he was called by a researcher on the Channel 4 programme and encouraged to watch C4's interview with Monica Lewinsky so he could come on the programme and object to it.

"They were presenting me with the opportunity to get on the telly if I was prepared to talk about the Monica Lewinsky interview," claims Nick Martin-Clark. "They said, `You've called us before about something', but they had no idea what I called about before and I had certainly never called about ... the Monica story.

"She was definitely trying to encourage me to watch it and said she'd be waiting by the phone to know what I thought."

However Alice Feinstein, the researcher who called Mr Martin-Clark, said she had done nothing wrong. "We are a viewer-led programme, but we will sometimes call back people who have called us in the past. If they don't hold an opinion they won't come on. ... I didn't just pick him from out of nowhere. I asked him what he thought about it because you have to get the background on people's opinions.

"We have covered the issues of fakes on television at length and so have to be whiter than white ourselves."

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