Counterpoint: Propaganda

Counterpoint: Propaganda

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Belfast, Co. Antrim, Co. Tyrone, Dublin, Fintona




Transmission 30/05/1991


25min 05sec




1 inch



Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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It is illegal to download, copy, print or otherwise utilise in any other form this material, without written consent from the copyright holder.


Presenter Brian Black explores the subject of propaganda in politics, using previous examples and interviews with current political parties who explain how they utilise the media. 

Jacqui Berkeley reports on a propaganda campaign from 1953 which was commissioned by the Department of External Affairs in Dublin. Fintona: A Study of Housing Discrimination was an Irish Government-sponsored film, created primarily for an overseas audience, that alleged anti-Catholic housing discrimination in County Tyrone. Dr. Conor Cruise O'Brien (Former Head of Information Department of External Affairs), comments on the use of propaganda within the film and states the events depicted provide a clear example of Unionists getting preferential treatment.

Unfortunately, not a lot is known about the contemporary reception of the film, with Bernadette McGurn - her father, Jim McGurn, was involved with the project - stating that a lot of it was kept "hush hush". However, former Unionist Councillor, Cecil Anderson argues that the film did not accurately portray the issue. 

Next, the viewer is shown footage from a Fine Gael conference, with the comedian, 'Twink', appearing on stage. His performance caused come controversy. John Bruton and Sean Barrett, from the party, defend the move, saying that anybody who tried something new is going to run into difficulty. This is not echoed by Terry Prone and Fintan Drury, Media Consultants, who state that the message remembered is not the one the party intended to put across. Peter Feeney (Editor Current Affairs RTE) says it altogether backfired, with it being a desperate ploy to engage viewers.

Various politicians discuss the role of the media and how it intersects with politics; Richard McAuley (Sinn Fein), Jim Wilson (Ulster Unionist Party), Jonathan Stephenson (SDLP), John Montgomery (Alliance) and Sammy Wilson (Democratic Unionist Party).

Concluding the programme is Mike Nesbitt and Austin Hunter, who both agree that Northern Irish political parties - with the exception of Sinn Fein - not being fast enough in adopting digital media strategies.  


Counterpoint is Ulster Television's landmark current affair series, which was also broadcast to a national audience on Channel4. Series' editor, Derek Murray described Counterpoint as addressing a "wide range of social concerns which affect every family in Ulster".


A UTV Production.

Directed by Lynne Davidson

Produced by Tony Curry 

Presented by Brian Black



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