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Radio 4's Today programme, BBC1's evening news bulletins and Question Time voted most impactful media platforms

By Tim Montgomerie
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Over 1,000 journalists, MPs and readers of ConservativeHome took part in an entirely unscientific poll over the last seven days in a bid to try and establish which media platforms have most impact. The exact question was as follows:

"Imagine you are a politician and have the following TV, radio or newspaper opportunities. Please rate which are most likely to have a big impact. Choose 1 for no impact and 10 for high impact."

The nature of "impact" was left deliberately undefined. Some may have judged a platform in terms of simple numbers of viewers, readers or listeners. Others may have decided that a platform's ability to influence the whole news agenda was more impactful. Pasted below are the results.

ConHome media montage

  1. Prime 7.50am or 8.10am slots on Radio 4's Today programme: 7.44
  2. Significant mention on BBC1's Six or Ten O'Clock News: 7.30
  3. Panel member of BBC1's Question Time: 7.28
  4. Front page story in a national Sunday newspaper: 7.17
  5. Front page story in a national daily newspaper: 7.16
  6. Interview on Sunday morning's Andrew Marr show: 6.69
  7. Significant mention on one of ITN's evening news bulletins: 6.65
  8. Prominent story inside a national Sunday newspaper: 6.60
  9. Prominent story inside a national daily newspaper: 6.57
  10. Any slot on the Today programme: 6.41
  11. Interview on BBC2's Newsnight: 6.40
  12. Guest appearance on Have I Got News For You: 6.14
  13. Interview on BBC or ITV's breakfast TV programmes: 6.08
  14. Three minutes on Sky News or the BBC news channel: 6.04
  15. OpEd piece in The Times, Telegraph or Mail: 6.03
  16. Appearance on a documentary series, eg Panorama, Dispatches: 5.77
  17. Interview on Channel 4's 7pm News: 5.74
  18. Interview on Radio 4's World at One: 5.69
  19. Interview on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine programme: 5.59
  20. BBC1's The Politics Show on Sunday: 5.48
  21. BBC1’s This Week with Andrew Neil: 5.38
  22. Place on Radio 4's Any Questions panel: 5.32
  23. Three minutes on Andrew Neil's Daily Politics programme: 5.32
  24. Prominent story inside the Metro or London Evening Standard: 5.28
  25. Interview for Adam Boulton's lunchtime Sky News programme: 5.27
  26. Three minute interview on BBC Radio 2: 5.08
  27. Interview for Sky News' Murnaghan programme on Sunday morning: 5.00
  28. Exposure on entertainment programmes like BBC's One Show or Songs of Praise: 4.97
  29. Featured on the main blogs including ConservativeHome, Coffee House and Guido Fawkes: 4.84
  30. Three minute interview on Five Live: 4.82
  31. Slot reviewing the newspapers on Sky News or the BBC News channel: 4.79
  32. Interview for Radio 4's Week in Westminster programme: 4.63
  33. An interview on Radio 4's Westminster Hour: 4.53
  34. OpEd piece in The Guardian: 4.34
  35. Good-sized report in a local newspaper: 4.32
  36. Guest appearance on Five Live’s Pienaar on Politics: 4.16
  37. OpEd for The Spectator or New Statesman: 4.12
  38. A slot on LBC or BBC London: 4.09
  39. Interview on talkSPORT: 3.83
  40. A slot on your local radio station: 3.80
A few quick observations:
  • The Today programme remains the most significant news platform in Britain. The 7.50am and even more coveted 8.10am slots reach five million people but they also reach the most influential newsmakers in the country. Someone who is interviewed in either of these slots will get follow up through the day on the news channels, blogs and evening papers.
  • The BBC's evening TV news bulletins make them the second most important media platforms. The 6pm news bulletins tend to be watched by four million people. The 10pm bulletins by five million.
  • It is interesting that Question Time enjoys the number three slot. Its audience of 2.5 million to 3 million may not be top of the tree but it does give a panellist ten or so minutes of prime time to reach a large number of people on a range of topics.
  • Craig Oliver will be disappointed at the relatively low scores for Radio 2. He's on the record for believing that the listeners to the likes of Jeremy Vine and Chris Evans should be a higher priority for Conservatives. Not only are there a lot of them, they tend to be less politically committed and therefore more open to persuasion. Margaret Thatcher certainly used to agree - making a beeline for the Jimmy Young show whenever she had something important to say. Getting Tory MPs on to Radio 2 or the ITV Daybreak sofa is sometimes hardwork, however. Compared to a mention in The Telegraph or on Today they won't get feedback from their colleagues in the members' tearooms, because they don't tend to watch or listen to these programmes.
  • Is any slot on Today really better than a slot on Newsnight? Newsnight is inched out of the top ten by any slot on Today. Audience research shows that even at 6.30am Today reaches twice as many people as Newsnight at its peak. Nonetheless, as discussed before, there is something more memorable about any visual appearance.
  • Newspapers still matter. Front page references in a daily newspaper beat any non-Today radio appearance and anything on ITN, Channel 4 or Sky.
  • A good showing for the blogs at number 29. Although given the nature of the online readership my guess is that the 4.84 score is a little puffed up.


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