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You could not make it up. It seems Ballymena councillor Robin Stirling, has accused UTV (Ulster Television) of sending viewers subliminal messages promoting Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams. From via forteana.

Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 19:02:35 -0000
From: Joe McNally (spam-protected)
To: Yahoogroups Forteana (spam-protected)
Subject: The voice of reason

UTV sent subliminal message: DUP man

By Maeve Connolly

A DUP councillor has accused UTV of sending viewers subliminal messages promoting Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

Ballymena councillor Robin Stirling says Gerry Adams features more prominently in the opening sequence of UTV news bulletins than any other politician and has compiled statistics he claims prove his point.

Mr Stirling has video-tape evidence and freeze-frame photographs of the on-screen images and is prepared to visit Havelock House to meet UTV representatives.

“The figures I analysed and was able to pick out were Tony Blair occupying 3.5 per cent of the screen, as compared to Gerry Adams at 21 per cent,” Mr Stirling said.

In a letter sent to UTV in December, Mr Stirling claimed the station was using ‘perceptual psychology’ similar to that previously employed in undemocratic regimes such as Romania and the former Soviet Union.

Mr Stirling said UTV had reassured him it was changing the graphic sequence, but he dismissed as irrelevant claims it was an “issue of artistic impression”.

“They were very pleasant but they’re not seeing what I’m seeing,” the councillor said.

He said he had not received support from all members of Ballymena borough council when he raised the matter at Monday night’s meeting and produced a three ft by two ft photographic montage to back his argument.

“People’s perception vary depending on their tolerance level.

“There are people on the council who wouldn’t be too worried what appears on their screens. Their idea is if you don’t like it turn it off, but I don’t know if that is really addressing an issue,” he said.

Last night a UTV spokeswoman said the news graphics had no political intentions.

“The montage of political figures which councillor Stirling refers to is not a political statement but an artistic sequence with a comprehensive range of images to ensure no political bias,” she said.

Fellow Ballymena councillor Lexie Scott said he supported Mr Stirling’s right to take issue with what he saw but expressed concern at the council being seen as trying to impose political control over the media.

The Ulster Unionist said the image of Mr Adams comprised approximately one second of a five-second clip and the montage swept over a large number of politicians.

“I think the vast majority of people in Ballymena are unlikely to be unduly influenced by a photograph of any politician, but especially of Mr Adams,” Mr Scott said.

The SDLP’s PJ McAvoy dismissed the matter as “frivolous and trivial”, adding that there were more important matters for Ballymena borough council to discuss.

“I’m sure all television companies do things in a very fair minded way and don’t set out purposefully to provoke,” Mr McAvoy said.

“At the end of the day all these people are prominent figures in the news.

“If some people seem to see a split-second flash of one person more than another I don’t really think it’s worth discussing,” he added.

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