[The Guardian website is previewing 'The War On Democracy' ahead of its transmission on ITV. In addition, The Guardian's 'Comment is Free' (CiF) website has an open thread asking people to put questions to Pilger in advance of him answering questions about the issues raised in his latest film on Friday afternoon on Cif. Update: click here to see the questions Pilger answered in the 'webchat'.]
Click here to watch an extract from John Pilger's new film 'The War on Democracy'.
ITV goes web-first
In search of elusive youth viewers for serious factual programmes, ITV is chasing the audience online. The broadcaster has got together with Guardian Unlimited, YouTube and social networking site Facebook to attract potential viewers to a number of new documentaries.
As part of the deal, the Guardian website will preview Bafta award-winning documentary-maker John Pilger's latest film ahead of its transmission on ITV. It will be the first time ITV has allowed its content to be shown on another platform before network transmission.
In The War on Democracy, Pilger argues that the US is doing its best to stifle the progress of democracy. The film includes an exclusive interview with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and former US government officials who reveal how the CIA waged covert wars in Latin America.
Part of The War on Democracy will be premiered on Guardian Unlimited's Comment is Free section from midday this Friday - accompanied by a live web chat with Pilger from 2pm to 3pm.
The move by ITV to air part of a programme on the internet, prior to its transmission, shows the way the media landscape has shifted as the boundaries between broadcasters and newspapers are blown away by the web.
John Pilger said: "Not only has ITV recognised the significance of The War on Democracy by putting it to air in its entirety with only one commercial break, it has forged this important link with the internet. For many of those who follow my work, the internet has become a vital alternative source of political thinking and debate."
Ben Ayers, senior factual and new media publicist at ITV, said broadcasters now have to think of new ways to attract publicity for their shows.
He explained: "As attention is spread between an increasingly vast array of different platforms and channels, it's really important that we find new and creative ways of targeting audiences and letting them know that we have something they might like.
"Two years ago the idea of broadcasting our content in another space before transmission would have been laughed out of town. But things have changed. There is a huge appetite for great factual programmes - we are just exploring new ways of showcasing them."
Broadcasting publicists have realised the value of creating a buzz around a show by releasing clips on sites such as YouTube.
Ayers is also looking at using Facebook to promote another documentary called The Muslim Jesus.
For ITV, it marks a sea change. Having been criticised for not embracing the web quickly enough, it has now realised the potential to bring a younger audience to the network.