Thursday, May 04, 2006

Associated Newspapers give the Tories a handy freebie

Today, the day of the local elections, the Metro newspaper - a freebie given out to commuters every weekday morning in around 15 major cities, including London, Manchester and Birmingham - handed the Tories between £11,000 and £16,000 worth of free advertising (ratecard .pdf) with what was effectively a half-page advertorial.

Although it's no major surprise that right-leaning Associated Newspapers, who own the Metro along with the Daily Mail and Evening Standard, should have a bit of a pro-Tory agenda, to suddently turn over the "60 second interview" feature - normally the preserve of D-list celebs desperately plugging their latest product - to a softball Q&A with the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition (also D-list, but still) is, on the day of an election and with no equivalent space given to the leaders of the other parties, surely a tad off?

In a seemingly pre-arranged series of at first glance semi-tough questions ("Your strategy of saying nothing while waiting for New Labour to implode appears to be working" being the first - the inclusion of "New" before "Labour" pointing out to people that the red party is no longer the same as it once was), Cameron is effectively given half a page to pitch his party exactly as he pleases.

Generalised questions about the difference between Tory and Labour Councils - a nonsense, as on a local level there is effectively no overriding ethos for any party - are followed by gifts along the lines of "are you getting some panniers for your bike?", allowing Cameron to diffuse the mini-scandal of his chauffer following him to work from last week.

But the real clincher? The final question - smacking of the old days of the utterly deferential royal interview of "Is there anything else you'd like to say, Ma'am?" - "What message do you have for Metro readers?"

A half page's advertising (wth colour photo and handy blue branding) in the Metro would have cost any other party £11,328.80 for London alone, £15,589 for all 15 cities. I wonder if this gift is going to be declared to the appropriate authorities?

(The interview may appear here at some point.)

7 Comments:

Anonymous The Morningstar said...

I'd guess that the the owners watched Blair turn PMQ's yeaterday into a PPB and decided to return the favour.

5/04/2006 10:39:00 am  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

NM,

If that should be declared, surely NuLbour should declare every single Polly Toynbee column...? Actually, most of The Guardian. Oh, and Murdoch's papers for the last ten years. And...

DK

5/04/2006 11:43:00 am  
Anonymous Dan said...

I think the point is that people know of Murdoch's bias, but millions of commuters pick up the Metro for free, if only for the Suduko - that's what makes the Cameron interview unfair.

5/04/2006 11:59:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Indeed - and that this is Cameron being given half a page to say what he likes, in his own words, on the day of what could be very important local elections for the future of the two main parties.

The Liberal Democrats, by the way, merited not a single mention.

5/04/2006 12:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Anthony Wells said...

I saw Blair do the column in the last few days, perhaps all three party leaders have been given a go (though, obviously it's nicer to get to do it on election day. Unless people vote on the way to work, in which case I suppose its nicer to get to do it on Wednesday)

5/04/2006 01:50:00 pm  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

The Liberal Democrats, by the way, merited not a single mention.

As it should be... ;-)

Seriously, you think that one interview with Cameron, in a free rag, is more scandalous than 10 years of NuLabour propaganda, thinly disguised as opinion pieces?

I know plenty of pubs in Edinburgh that have free copies of The Guardian hanging around for punters to read (though, strangely, not The Telegraph or The Daily Mail)...

I mean, I get your point, but I just don't consider it especially important. After all, if the punters are pivking up The Metro for the Sudoku, then they are hardly going to be interested in the Spam interview...

DK

5/04/2006 01:51:00 pm  
Anonymous Anthony Wells said...

"I saw Blair do the column in the last few days, perhaps all three party leaders have been given a go"

Actually iot looks like it was almost a month ago - how time flies (and no sign of a Ming version).

5/04/2006 05:34:00 pm  

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