Since 1959 broadcasting has established itself as the prime medium through which a campaign reaches the voter. Although this position underwent no major shift between February and October 1974, there were appreciable differences in the way radio and television treated the two campaigns. The broadcasters were influenced in their preparations by their February experience and by the expectation that the next election would be held in a less dramatic context. In February they had mounted the most extensive coverage yet offered in Britain. Both the BBC and ITV felt that they had been less than completely successful. A BBC Audience Research report showed that those who thought ‘far too much’ time had been devoted to the election had jumped from 17% in 1970 to 31% in February 1974.1 It was scarcely surprising that 88% of the ‘uninterested’ felt that there had been ‘far too much’ or ‘a bit too much’ coverage, but even among the ‘enthusiastic’ 31% felt the same. ‘For many viewers the BBC gave the impression of dragging an unwilling horse to the water — consumption did not increase but resentment, it appears, did.’


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  1. 1.
    The Coverage of the 1974 General Election Campaign on Television and Radio (BBC, May 1974). See also T. Pateman, ‘Television and the February 1974 General Election’, BFI Television Monographs, No. 3, and Annual Review of BBC Audience Research Findings, No. 1,1973/4 (BBC, 1975).Google Scholar
  2. 13.
    NOP Political Bulletin. Feb 1975.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Harrison

There are no affiliations available

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