Nearly 13 mil watch U.K. election coverage

Channels ditch early evening sched for live coverage

LONDON -- Almost 13 million viewers watched the new British Prime Minister David Cameron escort his pregnant wife Samantha across the threshold of Number 10 Downing Street, almost a week after an indecisive election result left Britain facing a hung Parliament and no clear winner.

Five days of uncertainty -- and public and private political horse-trading between the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats -- left broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, and Sky News tearing up their schedules and running extended television and radio coverage in a bid to monitor a fast-moving political situation.

The BBC ripped up its Tuesday evening lineup, including its hugely popular soap "East Enders" in order to bring live coverage of the departure of outgoing Labour PM Gordon Brown and the incoming Tory Prime Minister Cameron.

And days after they had expected to wind down the hectic election coverage, the networks were still broadcasting round the clock from a makeshift political encampment outside the House of Commons on Parliament Green, as well as having broadcast facilities in Downing Street, outside each of the three main party headquarters and in Whitehall, the street of main government departments.

In an election where the first-ever televised candidates' debates played an unprecedented role in bringing politics direct to the viewer, media has played a more vital role in the political dialogue than ever.

News networks, journalists, party activists and Members of Parliament alike tweeted the disasters and victories of a turbulent election night, while influential political bloggers like Iain Dale and of Iain Dale's Diary and Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home were popular choices as TV pundits in a way that was unthinkable in elections past.

Not all the coverage went smoothly. Sky News has found itself facing almost 1,500 complaints and an investigation by media regulator Ofcom after an on-screen row Monday between its political editor Adam Boulton and senior Labor aide Alastair Campbell, which at one point seemed close to blows.

While the onscreen verbiage would have raised few eyebrows to viewers of CNBC or Fox News, such antics are certainly not deemed cricket in the U.K., where impartiality on broadcast television is strictly policed by regulators.
comments powered by Disqus