Letter: BBC injunction fails audience

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The Independent Online
Sir: All of the sides involved in the debate on whether the BBC's Panorama programme involving an interview with the Prime Minister should have been transmitted in Scotland (4 April) are guilty of overlooking the most important factor in this issue - the audience. The politicians, judiciary, and even the BBC failed to take into account the audience's own ability to view political programmes (whether in the pending period or not) without it affecting their own ideology.

During the US presidential elections of the 1960s, extensive audience research was carried out to discover how much impact political party broadcasts had upon the electorate's decision in choosing a new president. The findings concluded that no matter how biased the transmissions were, they had no direct influence upon people's voting behaviour.

Those responsible for enforcing the injunction have acted on an archaic assumption. They feel that the relationship between the broadcasters and the audience is a one-way process, and all the messages that a programme conveys (in this case Panorama) are "injected" into the viewers' psyche, either consciously or subconsciously. Sociologists called this belief the "hypodermic needle model" and it was dismissed back in the 1930s for being naive. The current belief is that audiences have become very advanced and uses programmes to strengthen their own outlook upon the world, and conversely, dismiss any programme which does not agree with their own individual ideology.

With the above in mind, it would appear that the injunction was imposed in a knee-jerk manner due to the time factor involved, and it would be dangerous for any precedent concerning future broadcasts to be based upon a misguided assumption.

Yours faithfully,

MARK KINVER

Broadcasting Studies student

Falmouth College of Arts

Cornwall

5 April

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