More than 330,000 vote in Radio Times Bafta poll

Debate still raging among Bahrainis as Al Jazeera film retakes lead in online vote

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The extraordinary popularity of a RadioTimes.com poll on who should win one of this year’s Bafta awards continues to increase. More than 330,000 votes have now been cast in a vote on the Current Affairs category at the awards, with the poll at the centre of international debate about justice and democracy in Bahrain and Sri Lanka.

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According to votes on our site, the two leading contenders for the Current Affairs award should be Al Jazeera’s Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark, about the ruling monarchy’s response to the Arab Spring protests of 2011, and Channel 4’s Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, concerning alleged war crimes perpetrated by the country’s government in its civil war.

Campaigners for democracy in Bahrain are voting for the Al Jazeera film, which is highly critical of the Khalifa government. They are currently prevailing, with just over 50% of the vote.

Against them are those loyal to the Bahrain regime, spurred on by an intervention by the Bahraini foreign minister. Both sides have taken to Twitter and other social networks to marshal support. 

Although the majority of votes are coming from Bahrain and neighbouring countries, the picture has been complicated by a separate campaign by those seeking justice in Sri Lanka, who naturally support the Channel 4 film.

The Sri Lanka film yesterday took the lead in the poll but now trails on 49%.

To illustrate how high the 330,000 figure is, the entire population of Bahrain is only 1.2 million. And last year, the only Bafta award that can be voted for by internet users, the YouTube Audience Award, attracted 70,000 votes, although Bafta expects that figure to rise this year.

The RadioTimes.com poll does not in fact affect the result of the Current Affairs Bafta, which will be decided by a jury and presented on 27 May in London. The other two nominees – each of which is polling less than a quarter of one per cent in our vote – are The Truth about Adoption and Undercover Care – the Abuse Exposed, both part of BBC1’s Panorama strand.

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All four nominated films can be seen online.