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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Viewers turned off by election
David Dimbleby presenting BBC General Election Night - Vote 2001
Television was people's main source of information
Interest in the general election campaign fell to an all-time low among television viewers, according to the Independent Television Commission (ITC).

An ITC report said 70% of those surveyed said they had little or no interest in the television coverage, compared with 56% at the 1997 election.

Turnout in the June election was the lowest since 1918, with fewer than 60 percent of the electorate voting.

A polling station in the 2001 general election
Only 59% of voters went to the polls this year
Low television audience figures and poll results prompted the BBC to review its political output, even though many people said television had been their main source of political information.

But the ITC's survey of 3,000 viewers shows just how low voter apathy had fallen.

A quarter of respondents said they had ignored the coverage altogether, compared with just six percent four years earlier.

Broadcasts 'important'

Interest was particularly low among women and 16 to 24-year-olds, but 40 percent of everyone questioned said they had switched channels to avoid coverage.

Despite the lack of interest shown in political TV coverage, 63 percent of people thought party election broadcasts were important.

Asked what improvements could be made to increase interest in general election coverage some of the suggestions included:

  • A dedicated channel for election coverage
  • Televised three-way debates between the three main party leaders
  • More appealing coverage for first time voters.

  • Talking PointTALKING POINT
    Tuning out
    Why was the general election a turn off?
    See also:

    01 Oct 01 | UK Politics
    Persuading the Apathy Party
    24 Jul 01 | UK Politics
    Report tackles voter apathy
    24 Jul 01 | UK Politics
    Voters 'ignored e-election'
    26 Jun 01 | UK Politics
    Jenkins urges voting reform
    11 May 01 | Voting System
    What the electoral commission does
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