James Forsyth

Who has the time to watch a weekday conference speech?

Who has the time to watch a weekday conference speech?
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The activists here are already queuing up for David Cameron’s speech. But very few people outside of this conference centre are going to watch the whole speech: how many people have an hour free at 2.15pm on a weekday?  

If we want conferences speeches to be watched by more than conference delegates, then they need to be on in the evenings or on the weekend. Just imagine how many more people would watch Cameron, or would have watched Brown last week, if the speech started at 8pm.

US conventions take place mostly in prime time, with the networks being strong-armed into covering them for at least an hour a night. In 2008, more than 40 million people — about 20 percent of the US electorate — watched Obama and McCain’s acceptance speeches.

I’m sure the TV channels would kick up if told they had to hand over one evening every week for three weeks to a political speech. But it would be good public service television to show, at the least, the leaders’ speeches in prime-time.