It was an incredible sight: Premier Gordon Campbell delivering an entire speech … uninterupted, unquestionned and unedited … right there in the middle of the 6 o’clock major news shows.
In the middle of the news! A complete speech! With no questions! All of it carried LIVE on FOUR television stations (CTV, Global, CHEK and the Legislative Channel) flowing through cable to most of the homes in Vancouver … and indeed, throughout the rest of the province as well.
Some of the stations carried the premier’s election campaign speech (because make no mistake ..that’s what it was!) happily and willingly; others, I’m told, only after coming under direct pressure from the Premier’s office. Either way, I submit they sold … no, they gave away … their souls … and their integrity.
The legislative channel was the proper place to carry the premier’s speech in its entirety, so anyone who wanted to see it could have done so. And I would have been one of those who tuned in.
But by carrying the whole speech inside their “news” programs, I would call CTV, Global, and CHEK the premier’s private “whores” … but I would in fact, be wrong. Because apparently they didn’t even get paid for their air time. Did they just give it away? That just makes it all worse…. and makes them political sluts, not whores.
Whatever happened to the practice of allowing the government or a political parties to buy time on television: either before or after a news show; or at 8 p.m. or whenever???? Why was that not done in this case?
Or give them air time … in case of a critical situation .. but NOT in the middle of the major news show of the day.
I am aware of only ONE case where a similar event occurred: BCTV gave Premier Bill Bennett live time at the top of the Newshour to announce an election. But again, that was to announce a full provincial election … not just to announce government plans and promises.
Where does that stop? Will the news shows be giving the government free speech time in the middle of the news to announce new highways? How about health care initiatives? Or new plans to tear up any contracts? What makes economic announcements any more special that they warrant an entire free speech in the middle of the news show to go laong with them?
Have CTV, Global and CHEK lost so much of their integrity and backbones as news organizations that they are now making mid-term partisan political speeches by the Liberals part of their “news” offering?
Adding another insult to the viewers as part of the whole process, after Campbell spoke unquestionned and uninterupted for about 12 minutes … the stations had comparatively brief reaction (from just a simple taped clip to two to three minutes “live”) from Opposition Leader Carole James … but she faced questions … no unfettered air time here …. emphasizing even more the BC media’s terrible double standard.
Only the CBC … to the credit of their news sense and their journalistic integrity refused to play the game ..and carried details of the Premier’s new economic plan, along with a video clip from his speech, just like a news story … which it was.
I did notice the three sell-out stations also invited comments/reactions from business, labour and university types … but they were kept VERY short and limited, in comparison to the totally unchallenged “promo” speech time awarded the Premier.
Looks to me like the Premier USED the media to launch his re-election campaign, complete with tax cuts and wonderful promises for some.
And in what we saw Wednesday night, the mainstream media have signed on …. and taken sides: a highly dangerous move in a city where so much of the media is controlled by two corporate entities, thanks to concentration of ownership and the resulting “convergence” it has brought.
Perhaps a reporter on CHEK TV said it best, as the partisan television travesty ended: “Hey Premier, you have us to thank. We stuck with you, buddy.”