May 24, 2006

Balancing Act

I don't want to blog often about work-related stuff, but yesterday I attended a whole day seminar organised by the Broadcast Standards Authority on the isssue of "balance" in news/current affairs broadcasting.
Not the most riveting of topics, especially since the proliferation of broadcast and other media outlets have reduced the perceived need for balance in reporting (however defined) on the same programme, series or channel because you will find alternatives elsewhere easily and quickly. The balance (or, in older form, objectivity) format is now a marketing tool (Fox TV's "fair and balanced" - yeah right) and an ambition to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack (as the BBC tries to do).
All very esoteric for non-broadcasters, of course, and the Chatham House rule prevents me from telling you who breached several court suppression orders, or who would be quite willing to turn the lights off at the BSA, or who is proposing to replace the whole outdated BSA complaints procedure with a media ombudsman, but it was interesting to hear that BSA research found that audiences are far more interested in the fair treatment and accuracy of the story than hearing about opposing views to the story.
At the end of the day, the BSA launched its latest research publication "Freedom & Fetters" this being their periodic look into New Zealand attitudes towards broadcasting standards. It's usually a book the media look at for the updated list of words deemed unsuitable for broadcast and what changes there have been (apparently the F-word is far more tolerated now, but the various C-words are still a no-no). You'll have to buy or borrow the book to get the list.
I skimmed through to see whether any of my programming fuck ups were listed (we had two complaints upheld against us in the last 3 years, one for a show being too anti-gay and one for a film being too gay).
Balanced? I think so!

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