Nigel Farage gets too much air time

Labour Party

The BBC and other British media outlets give Nigel Farage undue prominence.  Although  UKIP have a number of seats in the European Parliament, they have no presence in the House of Commons and only a few council seats.

I can only imagine that the reason we see him so often on our televisions is that he’s entertaining.  It would, however, be very worrying to think that editorial decisions about serious subjects could be taken on such trivial grounds.  

The underlying question is whether people critical enough of the media they consume.  What’s the best way of making people more aware of the potential biases and agendas that lay behind the news reporting?

These were some of the questions that were being asked at a meeting yesterday with the European Broadcasting Union where I took part in a panel discussion on media literacy.

I was joined by Ulrika Alert, Head of Youth and Language at UR, the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company, who have made a series of incredible documentaries on the subject of media literacy.  They were designed for use in secondary schools, but have ended up being used in university classes, and broadcast on prime time television.  If you want you can watch some of these excellent programmes here.

There was also Philippe van Meerbeeck from Belgian Flemish public broadcaster,  VRT, who is heading up a project called EU Screen which is looking to archive news footage from across Europe from the last 100 years.  It’s an ambitious project and I look froward to seeing some of the results.  You can go and see what they’ve done so far here.

It was an interesting and lively event which raised a number of pertinent questions. It’s good these issues are being raised at European level, though sadly there is little in the way of such discussion back home in the UK.

11 thoughts on “Nigel Farage gets too much air time

  1. Maybe it’s because Nigel Farage is one of the very few politicians who actually answers the question he is being asked? It’s quite refreshing to listen to, even if you don’t agree with all (or any) of his views.

  2. Farage gets so much air time because he’s almost the only one representing the anti-EU view at that level. The BBC is supposed to be balanced(!) and so it can wheel in any number of pro-EU politicians but on the anti side there’s only a handful that are well known.

    He’s entertaining, yes, but to a lot of us he’s also correct in his criticisms of the EU. I’m sure he’s only called to speak in the European Parliament to give all the federalists some light relief because I don’t think they particularly respond to the issues he raises.

  3. ‘I was joined by Ulrika Alert, Head of Youth and Language at UR, the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company, who have made a series of incredible documentaries on the subject of media literacy.’

    Use of the word ‘incredible’ in this context says it all, really. 🙂

  4. I think that many people find him strange because not only does he listen to the question, he gives honest answers. But there is one other factor, he isn’t boring as so many politicians in the main three parties seem to be.

  5. If Labour politicians need to write this, it is a sign that they feel threatened by UKIP. Given the disastrous situation in the EU (which is not the same thing as Europe) UKIP’s arguments are sounding better and better. Mary Honeyball just doesn’t want UKIP to have airtime because she can’t deny that our predictions about the EU stamping out democracy have been proved correct. Italy and Greece have been prevented from holding their own elections. They have had puppet governments imposed on them. This is the most serious crisis since 1939 and all Ms Honeyball can suggest is censorship.

  6. Perhaps because UKIP beat the Labour Party in the European election of 2009? I also agree with Pete: “Use of the word ‘incredible’ in this context says it all, really.”

  7. “UKIP have a number of seats in the European Parliament” – that’s correct, as many as the Labour Party – so why shouldn’t Nigel Farage be interviewed on EU matters? I thought the BBC had to offer balance?

    Like it or not he is an accomplished & effective speaker & has a personality – something sadly lacking within the Commission.

  8. I must have missed something I have only ever seen him on TV once, and I for one would like to see much more of him and UKIP ,he does not get enough airtime or for that matter not enough media coverage. I wonder why that is !!!

  9. UKIP actually beat the Labour party into third place at the last european elections, therefore it is only right that they are given more airtime on european issues.

  10. An interesting article from Mary Honeyball; she is, of course, correct in her observation about the amount of air time the BBC provides Farage. There are several points here, that she should bear in mind:

    1 Farage has received more appearances on BBC Question Time than any other politician in its 35 year history. This coverage extends back to the early 2000s, long before Farage was known to the public. To this extent, he has become a creature of the media – at least of the BBC.
    2 Farage, of course, is a willing tool: he has an enormous ego; he requires publicity to satiate this ego.
    3 When Farage was first promoted by the BBC, it was clearly a strategy designed to guard against the rising support behind the bnp. Indeed, in the 2004 Euro Elections, Farage was especially promoted on Question Time. Hardly anyone had then heard of him.
    4 Since then, the bnp has collapsed but the promotion of Farage continues. Why? The answer is simple: the BBC has worked out that Farage takes more votes from the Tories than he does from Labour. The BBC – whose sympathies lie with Labour – calculates that at the margin, Ukip will cost the Tories many seats, thus allowing the Labour Party victory at the next Gen Election. Contrast this with the lack of publicity the BBC gives to the Greens. Unlike Ukip, the Greens have one Westminster MP (Ukip has none), in addition to their EU MEPs. They are hardly reported or covered by the BBC. This is because the Greens take more votes from Labour than from the Tories. Therefore, they are not backed by Question Time and the BBC.

    Hopefully, now, the wool has cleared from Mary’s eyes.

    Does Farage appreciate the position? Probably not. In any event, he is a publicity seeker and has probably not analysed the situation.


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