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Sholto Douglas-Home, NMEC
"January is not a representative month"
 real 28k

Ian Pannell reports from the Millennium Dome
"It's hard not to be impressed"
 real 28k

Sunday, 9 January, 2000, 06:00 GMT
Media 'Dome vendetta' attacked

Reports of the Dome's demise are greatly exaggerated, say ministers

The government has attacked what it sees as a vendetta in some sections of the media against the Millennium Dome, saying it has popular support among the public.

Dome minister Lord Falconer said reports that the Dome would have to stay open for an extra season to cover its costs were evidence of a knocking campaign in the media.

He said: "The public are making clear that they like it.

"Amid headlines that suggest the Dome is failing is a survey of 1,000 people, of whom 85% said they enjoyed visiting the Dome, and of whom only 1% described their view of the Dome as poor.

"The Dome tries to be both bossy and frivolous. It is the perfect emblem of New Labour."
Shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth
"This is the third such survey and all three have shown very high satisfaction rates by the people who count - the visiting public who are paying good money and having a good time."

However, opposition parties have attacked the government over organisation at the Dome, after it was revealed visitors were queueing for hours to enter the more popular exhibits.

Shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth predicted the Dome was heading for a "financial crisis before the end of the year".

And Liberal Democrat Dome spokesman Norman Baker said he would be demanding a Commons statement from Culture Secretary Chris Smith next week to explain what had gone wrong with the dome opening.

"The Millennium Dome is unravelling at a rate of knots," he said.

The Body Zone has seen the biggest queues
New Millennium Experience Company spokeswoman Rachel Faulkner said attendance figures would not be released until the end of the month, but added that the number of visitors on Saturday was below the building's 25,000 capacity.

"We are very pleased with how ticket sales have gone," she said.

Managers introduced a new system for the Body Zone queue on Saturday, with the line passing through an interactive display area next to the exhibit. The zone also opened half an hour before the rest of the attraction.

Mr Ainsworth said in a statement that he paid a private visit to the Dome on Friday, only to find that one of two advertised shows had been cancelled because of poor ticket sales - although there were still lengthy queues for the Body Zone and for food.

He said: "There is a real risk that the dome will face a financial crisis before the end of the year.

"The heart of the problem is the Dome's content.

"It comprises a bewildering and noisy mishmash of ideas and themes and lacks any coherent vision.

"It tries to be both bossy and frivolous. It is the perfect emblem of New Labour."

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See also:
09 Jan 00 |  Business
Dome 'to be sold for 100m'
01 Jan 00 |  UK
Thumbs up for Dome
08 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Dome still dogged by queues
04 Jan 00 |  UK
Queues mar Dome's opening days
08 Jan 00 |  UK
The Dome's embattled dame

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