Viewers looked for 'impartial' coverage of war

Partisan reporting of the war in Iraq may have been popular in the US but a survey reveals British viewers wanted their television coverage to be fair and impartial, writes Wale Azeez.

According to research released by the Independent Television Commission this week at the News World 2003 conference, viewers want their news to remain unbiased and expect it to provide “both sides of the argument”.

In a survey of 4,000 viewers during the week beginning 7 April, over 80 per cent saw this as a main consideration for watching television news, while three-quarters of the viewing population said news should inform “without any political agenda”.

On the question of whether broadcasters had a duty to support the Government in times of war, 33 per cent were in agreement, 32 per cent disagreed and 36 per cent were “don’t knows”.

Fifty-two per cent perceived television news to be balanced and 41 per cent believed it to be “fair to all people.” Nearly 40 per cent of viewers disagreed with the suggestion that the anti-war movement received too little coverage.

After war broke out, 58 per cent of the population said their consumption of evening television news did not increase. Only 30 per cent said their intake had increased.

Pictured left: ITV News’s embedded reporter Bill Neely broadcasting from Southern Iraq

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