News and political consensus: C.B.C. television and the 1983 British election

Authors


  • *The authors would like to acknowledge the receipt of a GR-6 research grant from Carleton University and funds provided by the Dean of Social Science, McMaster University. Thanks also to the Instructional Aids Department at Carleton for the editing of videotape.

Abstract

Cet essai propose une analyse structurelle des elections britanniques de 1983 dans les téléjournaux anglophones de Radio-Canada. Nous voulons circonscrire la relation entre les éléments présents et exclus du discours. Ceci, de trois façons: par l'interprétation de sondages d'opinion, par la representation des partis politiques, et par le traitement de la chose économique dans la compagne électorale. Le discours opère idéologiquement de façon à recréer le consensus autour du leader conservateur, Margaret Thatcher, et ignore comment l'émergence d'un troisième parti important incarnè la fragmentation du spectre politique. C'est ainsi que la perspective du consensus perd sa légitimité.

This paper provides a structural analysis of English-language CBC television coverage of the 1983 British election. It focuses on the relationship between the significant presences and absences in the discourse in three ways: the interpretation of the opinion polls, the representation of the political parties, and the assessment of the economic issues in the campaign. It argues that the discourse functioned ideologically to re-consensualise the political situation around the Conservatives and their leader, Margaret Thatcher. In this respect, it overlooked the ways in which the emergence of a major third party pointed to the fragmentation of the political spectrum, and thereby put into question the legitimacy of such a consensual perspective.

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