chapter  10
Polemic
Pages 19

I f propaganda was the siren voice of the twentieth century – the extreme statement of granddogmas dispersed through linear media – then polemic is its bastard child more suited toa twenty-first century in which many arguments are shouting for attention in the multimedia multiplex. In this world, the old and the new have come into conflict, all-embracing multicultural universalism finding itself in multidimensional conflict with resurgent unitary faiths from Islam to Judaism. While the internet is the natural host for any and all such interests – and facilitates the browser’s free, associative approach to its unlimited riches – old linear media such as television have struggled to find ways to accommodate such divergence and to persuade audiences to see their programmes through to the end. Broadcast licences and regulation require fairness and impartiality, constraints not generally applied to competing new media. At best the terrestrial television channel can allow a strong partial film to be ‘balanced’ over time by countervailing opinions also being given airtime. This is one device by which the embattled commissioner has been able to attract attention in the technological tower of Babel.