Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The end for 18DS as we have known it ?

Iain Dale has told us that 18 Doughty Street is to move, become less partisan, and have a new name. It sounds a lot like a new channel to me.

I wish the people at 18DS well, after all its not my money that's been used to set the whole thing up. However I feel a few regrets.

At the start 18DS was flaky but fun. It was almost compulsive viewing ( perhaps the compulsive people aren't the target audience ;-) ). The best part was it broadcast a different view that never got the light of day on Channel 4, BBC or ITV ( though I have to add that Dispatches is doing a better job. )

But then came the split with Tim Montgomery and co and the need to put on annoying left wing presenters.

Its fine to have a studio with the old formula of someone from the right, someone from the left and a confused Lib Dem to balance - but the conversation never goes anywhere. If you have three people of similar persuasion then they are not necessarily adversarial and the conversation developers. This is what I feel I've missed. ( OK in fairness I've watched a lot less of 18DS recently, post TM's departure. So perhaps the comment isn't fair - but I thought I'd record how I'm thinking anyway.)

When 18DS is in Westminster it will get far better exposure to the Westminster village, between division bells, but the link with the country may die. MP's and wannabe MPs will be easily available. Labour ministers might appear ( I wonder if the Labour machine has made certain conditions before 18DS get access to minister of the crown ? )

Its a shame - but the gap is now back in the market for someone else to have a go - unless the changes have been made to avoid EU broadcasting restrictions. I wonder if Conservative Home might move in this direction ? In some ways it would be better to have a non-Party organisation, to avoid the difficulties with party lines that even Conservative home has.

The original 18DS team clearly had good contacts, and a wide variety of guests who would never be seen by a wider audience. I hope this caries on, I will still drop by from time to time - but I've found them less engaging than they used to be.

Perhaps it was a little Wayne's World - but it also had the glow of optimism and the feeling that the ideas of the future were likely to appear there first.

But most of all I would like somewhere where those of us on the centre right could go for broadcasting to help develop and challenge ideas. That can never happen in a balanced and non-partisan setting because those terms are oxymorons, as those who insist upon them well know.

Everyone has a view point but those who insist on balance are those who's view point is best served by the status quo, which right now is the mushy left.

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