Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

“The Brussels Broadcasting Corporation”

Ha ha ha ha ha! The heads of Eurosceptics and proponents of the “Biased BBC” meme explode in a shower of “I told you so!”s and rage, as favourite hate-figure of the loonier anti-EU brigade, Margot Wallstr�m (she of increasingly tedious blog fame) suggests an EU-funded TV station to “fill the gaps in reporting”. A televised EU-Pravda – yep – that’ll win people over…

Oh, and another thing: Margot, if you’re reading – the reason the EU is “under-reported” in media continent-wide is thanks to the delights of the market. The problem is simply that NO ONE CARES. By all means set up your TV station – but no one will watch because the subject matter is far, far too dull. (Actually, that’s not quite true – obsessive anti-EU fanatics will watch it religiously, merely so they can rant about it in the comments section of your blog and over on EU Referendum.)

Seriously – the EU is mind-numbing. Why else do you think that 90% of this blog’s content is now on other stuff, despite being set up to be EU-centred? You want the EU to be reported, you need to spice it up a little – stop obsessing over petty legislation and pointless regulation and give us some genuine excitement. A little bit of showmanship is all that’s needed – an EU equivalent of Prime Minister’s Questions or something. That’s pretty much the only time the House of Commons gets on telly, after all.

Prime Minister’s Questions serves precisely no useful purpose other than petty personal/political point-scoring in the full glare of the assembled media. But it nonetheless frequently makes for fun TV and dozens of column inches every week. No one expects Blair to give straight answers to straight questions, because other than in overly idealistic fantasy worlds that’s not the point of the thing – and hasn’t been since long before they started televising it. It is, basically, a chance for all sides to show off in front of the cameras – propaganda for MPs of whatever shade.

The EU would do well to follow the example of the Mother of Parliaments and descend to “Punch and Judy Politics” a bit more often – it’s fun, and it gets people interested. The art of reasoned argument and grand debate of the 19th century – ideal for that era of newspaper reporting – is dead and gone. All we want now is soundbites, because our attention spans are far shorter – you’d think someone in Brussels would have noticed when their behemoth of a constitution was ridiculed for its excessive length. But no, they still seem to think that people enjoy wading through umpteen thousand clauses and sub-clauses, and that reasoned debate will work. Even if the EU’s spokesmen weren’t all rubbish, it simply doesn’t any more. We want soundbite, soundbite, soundbite, or we’ll switch to the other side.

(Hell – for another case in point, 95% of people will have stopped reading this post by now, as hardly anyone reads beyone the first couple of paragraphs of anything they see online… Brevity + entertainment => absorbtion of ideas.)

Naturally enough, the “Brussels Broadcasting Corporation” headline thing is based more on pandering to alarmist fears than the actual truth of the (still not finalised) proposals, but that lot in Brussels really do need to learn that the best way of making sure your propaganda has an impact with the people you are targeting is to, erm, not warn them that it’s propaganda in advance…

And thus we see once again why all fears of the superstate are unfounded – the people currently in charge of the EU are simply too incompetent to make it work, even if they wanted to. They haven’t even twigged the birth of Public Relations politics yet, seventy years after FDR helped usher in the new era with his fireside chats.

Oi, EU – you want people to engage? Make yourselves more engaging. Want them to pay attention? Give them something entertaining. No, it’s not big, it’s not clever, and it may well be a sorry state of affairs, but the truth is politics itself does not sell. You need a bit of drama to succeed – and all the EU’s managed for the last few years has been a bad sitcom.