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Tories propose televised media briefings

LONDON - The Conservative Party has proposed changes to the way Downing Street conducts media relations that would see the introduction of White House-style televised media briefings.

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Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, has said he would introduce televised briefings for the media should the Tories get into power, as part of a process to make the relationship between government and the media more transparent.

This policy would follow the procedure in the US, where journalists are given background information in the mornings, and then briefed by a senior official, usually chief spokesman Ari Fleischer, in an on-the-record afternoon meeting.

While Duncan Smith has agreed that there is a case for the role of prime minister's spokesman to be a party figure rather than a civil servant, he has said that he would stop the PM's spokesman from being able to give orders to civil servants.

Other changes proposed by Duncan Smith would include introducing a cap on the number of special advisers to ministers at 60. The current government has 81 special advisers, up from 38 in 1997.

Ever since Labour came to power, its relationship with the media has been a constant source of criticism. It has been accused of having special relationships with certain journalists and giving secret briefings against some of its own ministers. When Alastair Campbell was the PM's spokesman, he was also the target of much gossip, particularly over the level of power he wielded within Labour ranks.

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