Belfast Telegraph

Boycott all you want, it ain't going to work: BBC's Nolan says campaign had no bearing

By Jonathan Bell

An apparent Twitter frenzy calling for the boycott of the BBC's Stephen Nolan show came to no more than a storm in a tea cup - with the presenter saying it had no bearing on his listener figures - suggesting it may have indeed had the opposite effect.

The "Boycott Nolan campaign" sprung up earlier this year during the political talks with a daily deluge of tweets extolling incredulity at the topics discussed on that day's programme while calling for all and sundry to boycott it.

The campaign involved wild accusations of Mr Nolan being divisive, causing not only the collapse of the Stormont institutions but also that he himself was blocking political agreement.

Sinn Fein was accused of orchestrating the campaign - a claim the party denied.

This concern was articulated by Queen's University academic Professor Brian M Walker, who tackled Nolan directly about it on air.

On Friday Stephen Nolan was discussing the subject of abuse on social networks after DUP MLAs Carla Lockhart and Arlene Foster were subjected to a spate of hateful comments on Twitter after posting a selfie.

The loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson raised the case of the recent boycott against Mr Nolan. He claimed a number of parties engaged in the campaign and whipped up a frenzy on social media encouraging trolling with a number of politicians "more than happy to engage" and attack Mr Nolan's integrity as a journalist.

"The bottom line is this," Mr Nolan said.

"When you have got over, what is it, 300,000 people across a week listening to the Nolan Show if someone wants to..."

"Well it didn't work, the boycott didn't work," interjected Mr Bryson laughing.

Mr Nolan continued: "I noticed during that boycott campaign that we had more calls, or as many calls certainly as ever before.

"I noticed some of the people that were openly tweeting about the 'boycott Nolan' campaign were talking everyday about what we had on air.

"All I would say when you have that volume of support and buy in from the public... for 300,000 - what is that nearly a fifth of the people of Northern Ireland hearing the Nolan show across a week - work away, it ain't going to work."

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