Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, May 17, 2004
MICHAEL DUFFY'S NEW PROGRAMME, COUNTERPOINT was a refreshingly open and intelligent discussion of his chosen topic, the case for private ownership of the national broadcaster.

Duffy broke new ground by involving both supporters and opponents of his views to join the discussion.

Unlike the commentator with whom he'll be compared, Philip Adams, Duffy can engage with disagreement. On those rare occasions when Adams's minders slip up and allow a non-Gastropodian talent to be heard on Late Night Live, brave Philip snuffles into silence until one of his more reliable stroke-pals can be wheeled up to him.

Of course, the audience is finding this a bit hard to take. Duffy has introduced talk-back to his hour, and most of the regular listeners are not amused. One promises "blood in the streets" if their ABC is ever sold off.

It was encouraging to hear a couple of new voices welcoming the change from the monotonous diet of leftist attitudes, but Duffy has his work cut out.

Duffy should take a leaf from the tome of Gastropodian slipperiness. Rather than make himself and his views the subject, call in the external talents, the good communicators, like the now-banished Hitchens. Then Duffy can concentrate on serial commentary, the nudging, winking guiding of discussion into the direction he wants.

It's not pretty, but when you're in church it's better to sound like you're singing a hymn than something from the Rolling Stones greatest hits.

Unfortunately Counterpoint, unlike Auntie's preferred comment programmes, is not repeated, but take a look at its web page and make an entry in the guest book.