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Where's Tony?

(I realise I've started the last few posts with 'well' - so let's try to avoid this for a while.) As a long-time news junkie, since I've arrived in the UK, of course I've been looking to BBC television news for my daily fix. As television news goes, BBC World is usually held up as an alternative preferable to CNN - which like most U.S.-based TV news channels has lost a great deal of credibility in recent years, due to their insufficient ability to maintain a critical stance towards administration rhetoric. Similarly, BBC News Online is of course one of the most respected online news sources, and indeed has also shown some interesting and innovative tendencies to incorporate user contributions and external content in an effort to embrace citizen journalism within the confines of the BBC Charter.

BBC One logoI'm all the more surprised, therefore, that what I gather is the BBC's flagship domestic news programme, the 6 p.m. news on BBC One, is rather limited in its coverage of the news. The show largely follows a current affairs magazine style with extended coverage of a few selected issues (such as the current letter bomb campaign apparently against traffic control-related businesses, and the limited outbreak of bird flu in a turkey farm in Suffolk, as well as the snow-related traffic disruptions), before throwing to individual regional news broadcasts for the second half hour - but outside of this there's very little comprehensive coverage of other news events at any point.

In fact, in almost a week here I've yet to see Tony Blair or any other significant politician in the news. Is this a sign of BBC self-censorship in the wake of the Hutton enquiry, or an indication that Britons have long turned away from television in favour of other sources of the news (BBC Online at best, and the tabloids at worst)? Whatever the reason, I do now understand better the inspiration for (BBC-produced!) news parody Broken News, though - some of the figures of speech, dramatic devices and editorial tools employed by real-life BBC News presenters turn out to be no less overwrought and/or cringe-inducingly slick than those of their fictional counterparts. (By contrast, the local news show "Look North" with Harry and Christa is altogether too homely, tripe-tasting and all - but that's, perhaps, a story for another time.)

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