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Oxygen of Publicity
Oxygen of publicity

This phrase was coined by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1985 when Leon Brittan, then Home Secretary, persuaded the BBC Governors to postpone and then re-edit the documentary Real Lives which featured Irish Republican politician Martin McGuinness and DUP Councillor Gregory Campbell. Thatcher wanted to ban the programme before she had seen it on the grounds that it would provide terrorists with the ‘oxygen of publicity’. BBC journalists voted in support of industrial action to protest at what they judged to be the governors' supine response to Government pressure (Franklin, 2004a: 77).

The Real Lives affair occurred during an extremely low point in relations between government and journalists, especially BBC journalists. In 1982, the Conservative Government expressed its dissatisfaction with the BBC ...

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