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Sunday, 3 August 2008

Documentaries and taxpayers' cash

The public is right to feel aggrieved that Zanu Labour is covertly using taxpayers' cash to sponsor programmes billed as documentaries rather than propaganda. The Telegraph reports this morning that Labour has put £800k of our money into a show called Beat: Life on the street that purports to be a documentary, and that it gets editorial control over the message.

Co-operation with programme makers is nothing new; from Warship to A life of grime the cameras have been allowed to follow the activities of branches of government. Most of these sort of programmes have positive results, not because they are propaganda but because they have a discernible independent 'voice' and don't set out to be unsympathetic. But they succeed largely because they attract audiences.

I've never seen Beat and wouldn't watch it if I noticed it. And I suspect none of the networks would buy it if it were priced commercially, but Labour's subsidy has allowed it to be flogged so cheaply that at least one has taken it. And this distortion is perhaps the real danger; if Labour is distorting the market in favour of its own propaganda, it's also crowding-out other documentary work that may not be so sympathetic. And this is where sponsorship veers into censorship.

The only justification for state economic intervention is the failure of markets. The UK's documentary programme making market is not failing. There is no economic justification for this economic interference. It is the use of tax money for party propaganda, pure and simple. The practice is loathsome, repugnant, sleazy and dangerous. And it must cease forthwith.

1 comment:

Lilith said...