Participants on political TV & Radio panel shows should be open and 'declare interests'

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There is currently a feeling that participants on TV & Radio political and current affairs panel shows are selected without regard to their ability or as a reflection of their true value as a credible representative, but often because they are 'good viewing' or 'good listening'. Their interests and opinions are often dictated not just by their political, social and moral positions, but also by the heavy weight of interest and influence from their business(es), their 'supporters' and the lobby/pressure groups with which they are associated and represent.

In most political, community and voluntary bodies it is common (& good) practice to 'declare any interests' to avoid 'conflicts of interest' which might not appear obvious if they were not openly declared.

This ensures transparency, clearer understanding and allows all those involved, participants, audiences, viewers, listeners to take a much better and more informed view on the respective positions and arguments.

If it were understood that if you wanted (were asked) to appear on a TV or Radio panel show you would have to 'declare your interests' on the broad range of (pre known topics) at the beginning of each show/session, then, we the public would have a much straighter idea of who stood for what. Given access to available information on most public figures, any deception or lack of clarity would soon be exposed.

This should be introduced by media orgsanisation/companies as a voluntary code and this would be preferable to introducing legislation which might be a lengthy process and might even be self serving.

I don't know if for example the BBC is biased left or right or indeed perfectly balanced. I don't know if panelists on Question Time are 'influenced' by outside interests. I don't know if a panel is chosen fairly and proportionately. I do know that if participants had to be more open and transparent about their outside interests, we might all be in a better position to judge by how much their contributions are truly influenced.       



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