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Special: How To Prepare For A General El…

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Hello welcome to the media podcast I'm Matt deac.

On the show today, how do you report on a general election journalists from across the press have come together to ask that question in this Brave New World of AI deep fake some partial broadcasting also on the program.

Why is the cost of optioning books writing so fast?

And we take a look at the finances of News UK that's all coming up in this edition of the media podcast.

In the news this week the BBC are to outsource much of their Indian newsroom in order to comply with strict new government rules on foreign Media Investments this follows a rate of the BBC's Bureaus by tax inspectors in 2023 the results is a highly unusual setup for the BBC which is face mounting pressure from the Indian authorities about its critical reporting.

Jordan North is started this show on Capital reuniting with fellow radio One alumnus Chris Stark he moved to Global a few years ago with an overwhelmingly positive response from the press this week.

Are we starting to see a new breakfast War

And the Italians are up in Arms after a TV ad premiered this week that was considered blasphemy by Catholic viewers.

The ad showed nuns receiving their favorite brand of crisps as communion.

Yes, it's been a slow Media week.

But let's head over to Westminster now, and see who's joining us.

To talk about some of the other stories in the media this week.

So kicking off today's special organised by the media Society it's journalist and an AI expert who's most recently been executive editor at newsweek Alex Hudson hello.

Good afternoon, how are you doing?

I'm very good and also with this is investigative reporter James Ball a James

where are we will We Do It

so we are at the very lovely office as a prospect magazine where we are.

Going to be talking about.

how you actually cover a general election whether you're the BBC

and you've got all of the exit poll and all of reporters around the country at the stations.

What he had a lobby and we've also got polling Supremo Rob Ford

so we're going to be tried to work out.

How does the Mechanics of all of this get done?

And we'll try and catch up with some of those people later on Alex what makes this General Election so special.

A million different things I think I think so.

The thing that I didn't realise is that only one of the party leaders.

Has face a general election before?

So obviously, see you next hasn't start my hasn't the list goes on and on and on to actually.

We are in the age of No One Quite knows what's going to happen.

I think we're in the age, where no one believes the media anymore which has been getting worse for a while, but now we're at bottomed out into that.

And we are under the age where no one is well fewer people are never are in the national Media and more and more people that relying on social media to get their news.

Even though Instagram and Facebook have turned off politics from their feeds by default.

I was listening to a podcast this week that had an opener to explain to people how to turn politics back on on Instagram

so that they're posts would reach them reach their audience again.

It's kind of a bit mad.

Is that matter is that just a good business model advertising is less true could have a ramp political content around difficult content around war content.

if those social media

B companies want to grab attention and keep attention and get money from advertisers.

turn politics off does make sense you know at the extent of democracy of the harm of democracy but

you know

good business

So news has been in the news this week particularly with scoop the new Netflix series.

Alex I think we've forced you to watch Scoop did you have a lovely time doing that?

You asked me nicely and I said yes and I would never have watched it if you hadn't asked so nicely and it was.

Fine it was it was history being written in the present tense it is.

Gillian Anderson being Gillian Anderson

it is

a perfectly polite perfectly

fine bit of TV but why is it being made? Why does it exist what is the point of it?

Who is it for except for Netflix's desire to reach American audiences and stuff about the royal family?

And around sexual crimes and alleged sexual crimes.

And that's all it's good for.

So I I have the unusual privilege of I have been a character in a dramatisation of a sort of story that I've done.

And even I can't say that that film was good.

I think there's about one good journalistic film maybe two and that's sadly not of the ones that I was in and from what I hear scoop probably isn't the one either well if you don't want to watch it.

There's another one along shortly which is the Amazon Emily make this one.

Okay this week and news group newspapers owns of the Sun Times and Talk TV released their last year's accounts.

The son of half their losses and revenues are down but those phone hacking claims.

They're not going away though the costs are reducing time seems to be fairing okay.

Revenue is down but profits are up.


What's the opportunity do you think for for the Times the opportunity for the Times is that they are doing the quality so they are doing the quality over the quantity so News UK has the advantage of having both sun and the times so with the when it comes with the quality.

You have that subscription business which is probably going to be the only business in town.

And you've got the sun which hits.

half of British adults which is a mind-blowing number and in that regard, they are winning against the Daily Mail and most of Reach

even though the reach CEO Jim Mullen said we need page views because that's how we sell ads.

But for the time just doing good work and it is more focused on big Jade journalism than some of its competitors and so that's where it's market.

Is it has an appointment with audiences? It's keeping it's a point with audiences.

And it seems like those financials are getting better slowly.

James the

outputs good doing quite well numbers is Alex was saying we were getting slightly better.

Still pretty dismal way to run a business there, isn't it?


in what sense I think?

I think there's quite a lot of positive.

for the EZ UK I mean they've

they've got a lot of problems in the broadcast area day's sort of have had this abortive talk TV all of their market research said it wouldn't work all of their senior executives.

Thought it wouldn't work group at Murdoch told them to do it anyway, and they've had to do it.

So they've had to manage the core business with a huge amount of distraction and turmoil.

And so these are quite good numbers given that.

I think the Times is now looking like a sustainable profitable business as its own and 10 years ago.

You would not have believed that.

You know the son that it's partly about can it ever dig itself out of dealing with all of this historical phone hacking stuff.

Of course the son's never admitted any liability for found hacking but they have paid huge amounts in settlements.

Listeners will draw their own conclusions.

But this is a long time since that scandal and it's still costing them tens of millions every year and huge amounts of attention.

And it's very hard for them to be fixing their business models.

And to be looking to the Future while this still so embedded in the past.

Talk TV they had a lot before tax of 53.7 million pounds they're coming off the EPG but again who exists online Alex do you think if I expensive way?

To get some decent Studios and rethink what your YouTube strategy is.

I mean was that sounds like your opinion doesn't I mean of course it like if you're trying to do linear TV why?

If you're trying to do stuff still for broadcast as a first port of call why if you still recording in landscape as a first port of call despite what tiktoks recent algorithm changes will have you believed.

Why I think portraits think digital think as a top of Funnel way to build people into your into your brand rather than it.

Just being a stand-alone product.

As as you were saying liked.


talk to TV

didn't make any sense from the start how they pivot and how they think about what they do next.

I don't know what the answer is to that at all.

James chink, they can do it.

I think

that's clearly viable.

video strategy to be found

it probably doesn't come from adapting linear TV

I suspect that other than doing a sort of few words and keeping it the name.

They'll probably throw out all of the linear strategy disconnected from torque radio entirely.

And try something completely different.


video if you're under 25 it's the primary form of communication audio is then second text is nowhere if you want an audience.

As that group sort of comes in to lead me new news consumption era.

If you want an audience of adult professionals in 10 years in 15 years, you need a video strategy.

So, I think they'll find I think someone will find one.

And then everyone else will copy them and then you'll have to innovate format again and again and again.

That's how the influences do it and that's probably how we're going to have to learn how to do it.

And will it James nipple way to get ready for the event and lastly a report in broadcast suggests that the cost to TV companies to option books as skyrocketed.

in the past year

doing well, this is Alex

because there's no money because there is a sort of Grand adjustment in the streaming companies so everyone's gone.

The the markets are finally so in themselves out so Netflix is kind of stable Amazon Prime is stabilizing disney+ is and those are the big players and so everyone wants some dead search.

And so if you've sold 4 million books.

then chances are you'll have 4 million people at least who are willing to watch this so if you take the

what is that programme called the three three body problem that sold how many millions of books 6 million lots of millions of books before it was made that is a fantastic piece of television.

And because there's two more books to go.

There's two more series in that which means they have a steady form of income.

And that will bring in people who aren't traditionally Netflix consumers.

into that product and so when you're looking for the next tip you're looking for normal people you're looking for all of these big hits, what's the

the book I haven't read Sean Leo de fleurs freshwater for flowers that apparently is an hour bidding war that's happening so

I might have to go back and read it but that sold formally in.

Copies already and that's why there's a bidding will because if you have 4 million people who already know about the brand before you even have to start it saves you remind me to do another Marvel movie.

It's how do you create new IP

without having to start from scratch.

And we see with all the streamers.

Is they've sort of left prestige behind them and have sort of gone for high-end mainstream?

We've talked about on the show before these are like kitchen kitchen island dramas things that kind of look nice things that seemed kind of quite hi-end as if it's like an ITV drama with some cash bent on it and I think this kind of fits into that doesn't it with with people.

Going for bankers.

If you think about the sorts of people who are most likely to be core consumers, it will be the sort of the core family unit which is where Disney plus stands to gain.

It is the middle class middle England don't you know pick a country.

The global appeal so it has to be timeless relatively speaking.

it has to be broad appeal and it has to have something unique to it and so

I don't know I don't know I don't know what the answer.

Is that one.

but I think they are still they still have more money to spend than any of the traditional broadcasters and so that's why they're getting all of the the pick of their Bunch but it's

they have slightly less made this bend than

back when Netflix was in the growth phase okay- thanks Alex so we're going to nip off.

And see this session and talk some of the participants.

So retrospect is what historical events are we taking off on this week's run of today in history well Monday is the anniversary of the day the world first heard about nudge Theory then on Tuesday we revisit the non fairy tale wedding of Charles and Camilla on Wednesday the day the banana first came to Britain on Thursday pack your bags.

We're off to Butlins first holiday camp and on Friday the day Eureka became the first man in space we discussed this and more on today in history with the retrospect 10 minutes every weekday.

Wherever you get your podcast.

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I'm with Katie Searle you had quite a fun job for a long time looking after the BBC's political coverage you said on the panel today that.

I'm 601 every morning.

You'd often get a call from one of the political parties.

It's that something you ever get used to.

Actually amazingly you do get used as I said on the panel, I think.

It's getting used to the fact that actually they're just they are doing their job and I do genuinely think that actually they are under a lot of pressure to deliver.

And if they're not trying to persuade me to change our coverage one where the other.

Then they probably should be.

And so actually if you take it in that spirit as opposed to your shouting at me and it's a personal attack.

It's much more easy to do with we just like take a breath.

You know I ring you back.

You know I've only just woken up or you know give me a give me 10 minutes to look at what you're even shouting about because I don't even seeing it.

Which happened quite a lot?

And then take a really kind of measured view about what you're going to do about it.

So you get to look on this year which must be actually quite fun to every election is different different group of people often different range of parties.

What's the big Challenge for broadcasters covering the election this year?

Started really good question um look I'm going to say the missed this information and AI mostly actually because I think it's the new challenge.

I don't think that in the end.

It will make a huge difference in terms of people's voting.

I do think it will have an influence on some new Cycles and that could be two or three days which is you know decent chunk app six weeks.

If there's a few of those over that.

So, I think you know that will be the difference in that we've gone from.

social media and Twitter storms

Which really influence particularly in 19 so this time? I think they kind of actual AI fake news.

and the video the Stills are purporting to be politicians when they're not I think it's going to be the main difference in the challenge there and we've got a new news and current affairs broadcast in GB News they're obviously be quite a few people on the right Tori and

Other parties, who might quite like to appear there more often.

And probably they'll have a good person on election night as well.

I guess yeah.

Well Boris Johnson I think is committed to being one of their main voices.

And clever rose by GB news because of course selection rules means that a lot of their main presenters as City MPs will have to come off their roster.

So incomes the the big guns of Boris Johnson I think we'll have a big effect on how the rest of the campaign.

Is is managed as well because as we know he makes easy headlines.

And easy headlines then tend to get picked up by everybody.

So and do you think they'll take do you think the other broadcasters will have to cover him.

On the night so he says something at half 10.

There's one else have to pick up on it at 11:00.

Yeah, I think they were I think they will I mean look is that you know a former prime minister is a very big figure in this country.

It's still who knows he may not be out of politics for that long anyway, and I think of course he you know people are interested in infused.

I think a challenge again if I was still at the BBC was to say.

Let's not do everything he says you know and we don't have to react to everything.

He says there will be times where he says something that is newsworthy.

There'll be a lot of times when he says stuff that isn't newsworthy and I think that will be absolutely something that the broadcasters need to look out for so previously you've had to talk to political parties about debates.

Also about big interviews, do you think we'll see a head-to-head debates whether to political Labour and conservative leaders?

This time around I absolutely do 100% there will be head-to-heads.

I think the question is how many not if

So do they do you know they'll do ITV they'll do the BBC do they do the other broadcasts do they do GB news? Do they do Talk TV do they do all the other?

Streaming channels that will be all after them to do stuff so that will be the real question this year okay.

Thank you very much.

Thanks for having me.

I wish someone would house use the BBC's election editor.

We've been hearing a lot about your planning.

How long you've been with you been working on this one?

We've been working on it for probably about six months already.

You know you and we have.

Some contingency plans just in case.

You know apologizing decided to call an election year early.

So and there's a lot of logistics, so there's an awful lot of contacting local.

Councils in order to arrange the you know many dozens of local of an action and night counts that we have to go to.

There's a lot of work there.

There's a lot of work in organising the exit poll since they've been boundary changes.

There's a lot of graphics to work through.

And make sure that they're right when you sort of provide graphics with a big flow of live data.

Do they work properly so there's an awful lot of back ends.


planning that takes place

and then on election night at all kind of hurtles past due to thousand miles an hour.

So some previous selections which happened.

Sooner than you may be of expected men you had to reuse some previous.


Have you got lots of New Tricks new graphics new things planned for this one as you've had a bit of time?

To get ready for them.

We have we have got a you know reinvent things a bit I mean the elections that suddenly surprised us in 2017 2019.

We did reuse the kind of graphics.

care of parts that we have from previous elections

and but you know there wasn't everything there was elections.

We only had six weeks and obviously.

One thing that always changes between election and election are the outside broadcasts because you've got totally different shadow cabinet totally different cabinet the marginal seats have changed so those all have to be completely re.

And re contacted and it takes a lot of time to get around the country for 60 or 70 outside- broadcasts.

So I mean there's an awful lot to do in those very awful snap elections involved in awful.

Lot of you know working till late.

And I suppose quite different on technology technology-wise so previously lots of satellite trucks everywhere whereas maybe a little easier now to use bonded 4G cards and all of those sorts of things does that mean you can be a more places or it can be more flexible.

He had been previously I don't think it means you could be a more places.

I think that's because the trouble is I mean at certain like you know two oclock in the morning on election night.

There are five.

constituencies declaring every minute so you just could not get more on that's the thing unless you unless they spread out more and and counting over a longer period

So, it's not that and also we still have.

Some issues with the technology.

And you know they're always counted in leisure centres leisure centres a giant Faraday cages.

It's really very very difficult to get a signal out.

Just from however many g's you've bonded or whatever it is.

So they still are quite a lot of satellite trucks in there.

And but it does you know it will no doubt be the future at some point.

Definitely and you're very fortunate that you get a little sneak peek of the exit poll.

What's that feel like and how many of you know what that exit poll is going to be half an hour before the rest of the country does.

It's quite a small you keep it a smaller as possible because you know if it leaked we're all in deep trouble.

He's a legal you know and


there's on our programme there's probably.

You know four or five?


you do tell the political editor because they've got to sum it all up you do tell their presenter because they've got to put out the right numbers.

And you know the producer who puts out you presses the button to send it live they know as well because they need to preview and say yeah those are the numbers that they are going out like not much more than that though.

When you think about what's what makes a good election night?

Is it purely the story is it the planning? Is it the guests you've got what's the magic mixture that makes?

A very very long program watchable and interesting for the audience.

I think it's Coronation of all of it.

I know that's a bit of a sort of.

We can't se but it is a combination of all of it.

It's the kind of feeling that I always think it's like almost like the original eviction show I was talking about.

I was what you know a few weeks ago.

My kids were watching love Island's you know me and my partner or watching.


and I was just saying oh Ashley election night.

Just think about you know 30 million people go out and vote on election.

Day where else in a year to 30 million people in this country do the same thing on the same day?

And then I kind of like to think about this is that we know with you know they then all go home.

And they turn on at 10:00.

And they see what they've done.

and you know

The technology you were talking about earlier about the way we cover the election has changed enormously over the last 50 years since the BBC began doing elections.

The way they actually administer elections in out there in all accounts has not changed at all.

It is still your stubby pencil that you Mark your ex.

You know in a booth in a church hall somewhere.

And then they all take them to a leisure centre and they it is leisure centres now rather than town halls which used to be a but that's about the only change.

And and they troop on stage and they make an announcement.

You know so it's it's very dramatic.

And I think that the the all the kind of graphics create a big sense of event.

All that kind of Jeremy Vines sort of Magic graphics stuff.

and you know

see your tongue fold in front of you.

over sort of a Towers and

you know political careers are made and wrecked in in a really short time.

You know you think you thought through every scenario, but there have been several elections, I've done where.

It's not the one you thought it was going to be by any and it's it you know.

you see it unfold in front of you and

it's really no it's thrilling really.

And when do you think your programme is going to be on the air this year?

I try and ban that question in every meeting I go to I tell you why is it's the only thing you're going to meetings and we go to dozens of meetings about elections.

The only thing anyone wants to talk about and the trouble is that if you allow people to talk about when you think it's going to be you never get anything else disgust.

So I try and stop it just sit with it happens now.

We ought to be in a position that we can actually do it about it.

So you know we need to kind of focus on if it happens now, what graphics have we got?

If it happens now, you know, where can we get enough satellite trucks to cover all the counts we're going to go to?

So, I it's the question I try and ban.

Lovely Sam thank you very much donata Rob Fort from University of Manchester

I get a you get very involved in election campaigns covering them particularly for the BBC what are you looking out for this year?

When you are taking your polling data and trying to inform the journalist to what to do.

Well, I mean the this election is a bit unusual because at present it really looks like it's a case of how big is the wind going to be rather than who's going to win, so I think I'll be watching the polling data to see whether or not we're seeing any kind of narrowing in labour's large lead.

And also we've seen a lot of the mrps multiple regression.

and post stratification these are sort of you know estimates of every single seat and you know that they are very in quite a lot, so I'm going to be watching them quite closely because

you know whether we have.

Modest labour majority or a big labour majority on the same polling could depend on how those votes spread out so that's going to be another thing.

I'm going to watch closely you mentioned earlier that there's often a gap between the polling data and people's perception of the polling or what they think can happen and that seems to be.

Quite wide at the moment.

I think that's true.

I think if you look at the polling right now what it's pointing to.

Is possibly the biggest swing from a government to an opposition since polling began?

Possibly the biggest swing from a government to opposition since.

The mass franchise began and people just struggle to imagine that such a big change could happen all in one go and so they look for reasons why the polling.

May be wrong and of course the polling.

Maybe wrong it may be wrong in itself.

It could change between now and election day but

It feels that one of those weird moments where if it does end up being a really massive swing.

We'll all look back at where we are right now and say well.

It was really obvious all along wasn't it right now.

We're not saying that we're not saying we're really confident.

This is going to be some sort of a huge swing and a great big load of majority because it just feels like such an unusual event to happen.

And what effect will the smaller parties have?

On that majority, I mean the the Tories are facing battles from both sides.

That's true and how the small parties matter.

Is geography as well as poling's so for the Liberal Democrats what matters is Tactical voting you won't see that in the polling but they can get 15 seats.

They could get 45 seats most of those seats will come off the Tori columns, so that's really important for the Tory result the S&P how they do against labor in Scotland that's not really very visible in that national polling but in Scotland specific polling.

They're more or less tied with labour now and the thing about the s&p's vote is it's really spread out.

So they could win all the seats or lose all the seats on a very small shift in the polls.

They could they drop another two or three points they could lose 30 seats that's very good for scared armor totally out of his control and some extent and then you've got reform UK who aren't going to win any seats let's get real.

Sorry Richard ties.

You're not going to win any seats but they have the potential to split the leave vote in particular.

That was so important to the Conservatives 29 Vic 2019 victory and that could take another 30 40 50 seats off the Tori column, and it'll be because they're losing votes that are completely out of the reach of labor or the Liberal Democrats but are also right now really hacked off of the government.

and so

when is the election going to be?

and what have you pinned down as the Labour

seat lead

When the election is going to be well, I think the panel were discussing that.

autumn may be trying to avoid the

US election as well that seems sensible to me.

I actually just got an email in my inbox today so like.

Come along to Conservative conference in early October that's kind of interesting because that's one of the complicating factors here if they go early in October the potentially going to have to cancel their conference.

That means a lot of Lost income potentially a lot of annoyed partners that get involved with conferences because they're being told it's happening right now.

So maybe that pushes it a bit later.

Despite the US complications the other thing is Richie seen that doesn't seem to be very good at making firm decisions and not very good at making them stick with his party either.

So you think but what would happen to be makes no decision at all.


so that's still I think a potential option.

That's the default option to be never makes a decision at all and then in terms of the Labour seat lead.

Well, it really depends a little bit on these photography factors that we've just been talking about how the smaller parties do how the labour vote is distributed as well as how much of a lead they have butt.

if you were to take the central prediction, you're looking at a labour majority of

um at least a hundred at the moment on the central prediction from the polling so

How big you think that seat need will be?

Do you believe the powers? Do you think the Narrow a bit? I probably be a bit cautious? I think maybe there will be a little bit of that narrowing like I said we may all regret that six months from now and say oh we knew all along it was going to be a big one, but so I would say.

Maybe about a labour sort of majority of about 80 to 100 seats.

that's not a seat lead though so in terms of the seated I have to do the mental arithmetic on that but there'll be a long way ahead of the Conservatives

and give us an impression of what it's like on election night.

For you as you're looking at this data streaming in comparing it to what you thought was gonna happen.

Maybe five six hours before.

well, I mean election day and night is really I think quite unusual for us on the exit poll team because

it's kind of like being in a kind of different times zone because

we've spent six hours kind of mentally digesting what we think the result is before anybody else is even thought about the result.

So we feel like especially in the first couple of hours that everyone else has sort of playing mental catch up.

to us because it's like they're all like trying to make sense of this and you can see them going through the

phases of thinking about it that we've already all done all day long.

And then the night itself once the results starts flowing it's a very.

Weird to the two pace rhythm early on very slow you get a couple of results from Sunderland because they're always racing with Newcastle to be first you get them about midnight and nothing to about one 130.

And then it's like Bedlam from that point on and you just like flying by the seat of your pants on adrenaline trying to make sense of it because what we're always looking for is things we can tell.

the BBC audience about what the result means things that we can pick up in the data, that's tell us a little bit about

how the country is voted why they voted this way, who's moved who hasn't moved so we're just constantly running all of our models and our stats and trying to spot things that we can then.

pass over to the broadcast team and so you just

constantly in that zone, so the hours just fly by and then it's like it's Dawn you're tired.

And most of the results with declared and you like where did that time go and any plans to use any AI to analyse some of the volume of data that comes in to things that maybe you couldn't normally get around to.

No plans this time.

I don't think we have anyone on the team.

That's like really a Wizkid on that.

So you know this is partly a sort of aging dinosaurs problem but also

The volume of data itself is not that huge.

You know got 600 seats you've got bits of sensors.

They've got all this kind of thing and much of what you're doing is trying to apply some human judgement to like what are the interesting stories here.

What are the elements in all of this analysis that are interested.

I can imagine a situation where you know I

Not necessarily AI but automated techniques to pick out the strongest relationships will be used for the expert actually does some of that already.

It's not AI it's the standard statistical modelling.

But I could see.

A role for other tools that enable us to sort of Zero in on those things a bit quicker that would be interesting but you know.

Not not a skill I have so we're gonna have to hire someone younger and smarter not this year Rob thank you very much.

My pleasure.

Well, that was.


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My name is Matt Deegan and the producer was Matt Hill it was a rethink audio production.

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