Channel 4 is one of those broadcasters that some of us watch for its excellent main evening news, for its documentary strands, for actually doing investigative journalism (pace Michael Crick), and on occasion for what I call “wallpaper TV” programmes, for instance anything to do with selling, building and improving houses. But most folks don’t watch the station at all. And hacks hardly ever talk about it.
This is because there aren’t the really high profile soaps and sleb-dominated shows that are the staple of ITV and BBC1. But when there is an opportunity to use Channel 4 to work up a good why-oh-why froth, then the cheaper end of the Fourth Estate is on to it like a rash, as happened when the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre tried to stoke outrage over the last Big Fat Quiz Of The Year.
And now they’re at it again, as Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have discovered to their horror that Channel 4 will mark the Islamic holy month of Ramadan by broadcasting – in full – the early morning call to prayer, followed by a brief recap for the four other prayer times during each day. Weather forecasts will mention sunrise and sunset times.
“Ramadan a ding-dong” gasps the Sun’s alleged exclusive (those not getting the supposedly hilarious headline may usefully study the lyrics of “Who Put The Bomp”) as the hacks get feedback from a UKIP spokesman: “I cannot believe that the majority of mainstream Muslims want to see this. It will inflame community tension”. Bullshit. And you’ll note that UKIP didn’t actually ask a mainstream Muslim first.
Then comes rent-a-quote Tory MP Conor Burns: “I find it extraordinary Channel 4 would pursue this politically-correct tokenism”. What the heck is “tokenism” about marking the entire month of Ramadan? Then they go and seek out Anjem sodding Choudary to wind up their readers a bit more. And the rest are no better: the Mail has to mention Choudary too.
That’s because they want to compare the Ramadan exercise to giving Choudary airtime – although they talk about him all the time – which effectively tars all British Muslims with the same brush. The Mail also promotes a group called Britain First, which calls its followers “Patriots”, talks of “taking our country back”, and is campaigning to “Stop Channel 4 Islam Propaganda Month”.
So we have the Sun taking an assertion from a UKIP talking head that this will “inflame community tension” coupled with the Mail giving a platform to a bunch of bigots. Then the two of them blame Channel 4 and followers of The Prophet. As Littlejohn is so fond of saying, you couldn’t make it up. But it’s his pals who are the ones indulging in breathtaking hypocrisy and needless rabble-rousing.
Yet another example of how the Fourth Estate is utterly devoid of principle.
I can remember (just) when the likes of Mail used to publish sunrise and sunset times, usually in a corner of page 1 or 2. It was to make sure you had lights on your bike (in those days most police really did have nothing better to do!). But it could still be used for religious reasons and no-one said that was bad.
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