Click to get your own widget

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

"Separation of Powers" As Important In The Media To Freedom As in Government - The BBC Monopoly Makes Britain A Totalitarian State

  OK so the BBC, as a state owned media monopoly, is inherently likely to promote authoritarianism and allow government to get away with failure, as explained yesterday in the Harvard report of effects of state ownership worldwide.

  But does the trend prove the particular instance. After all the BBC say they are an upstanding reputable organisation whose Charter specifically requires thattheir reporting is balanced. And Pravda means "Truth" thereby proving the Soviet media was never biased or censored. Perhaps it is possible to run state media without bias - the proof is in the viewing.

  A corollary to that would be that if the BBC (or Pravda) were ever proven to have lied about being balanced and truthful then their continued assertions to the contrary would simply prove that there are no circumstances when such protestations of innocence could be treated as coming from a sincere source.

  I have previously pointed out that their party coverage is slanted, not only in the way they talk favourablt about approved parties, which may be claimed as marginally subjective, but also in the, absolutely objective number of times they mention each party. In that purely objective way the BBC, provably give the Greens 10 times more coverage than UKIP despite the fact that at the last election UKIP got 4 times as many votes. That means that, provably, the BBC were 39/40ths (97.5%) corrupt. Currently UKIP are 8 times more popular in the polls than the Greens. Including the obvious bias in what they actually say it looks likely that the BBC is, in party politics well above 99%  corrupt - 100% to the nearest whole number.

   BBC coverage of the BNP has been, subjectively but undeniably, far more4 critical than of other parties & worse, far less willing to allow them to reply. I do not think this can be denied even by the BBC itself.

  Discussing the BNP has been made a ticklish subject precisely because of the many years of denigration by the state media. However anybody of a liberal mind has no option but to denounce the way they are censored. They represent a significant number of people and in a democracy are as entitled to free speech as anybody. Indeed years of obvuious bias against the BNP, the stae media have been "denormalising" freedom of speech - I assume deliberately - and it is time for those of us who believe in it to say so.

   Also by any objective description the BNP are nowhere close to "fascist" - indeed they are the only party (in my opinion something of which UKIP should have some shame) to have expressed regret at the dissection of 1800 Serbs, in Kosovo, by NATO police under the authority of our and other NATO governments. Unfortunately the claim not to be Fascist & even Nazi, clearly cannot equally be made by the BBC & the Lobour, Conservative & LibDem parties who all supported such genocide.

   Being opposed to medai censorship in principle works only if you are willing to stand up for the principle. Otherwise you are simply calling for an end to censorship that doesn't benefit you - a proposition less attractive to everybody else.

  OK so what should we want. As shown by the report even when the state doesn't own the media, in a free market it tends to fall into the hands of particular, politically ambitious families who get what the report quaintly call "amenity potential" but others would call power and favours out of the deal.

   This is an improvement over totalitarianism but well short of ideal.

   I previously suggested that the BBC should be replaced with an organisation with the same title whose job is simply to auction off airtime, hour by hour. This would make the airwaves accesible to anybody with a little start up capital. I would now add to that that there should be a specific limit of no new organisation being able to buy more than 15% of viewership over the year. There would have to be ways of ensuring that there is little crossover in shareholding between 2 "separate" organisations (yesterday I mentioned the intricate web of holdings in Singapore which lead back to the Lee family).

   The media have immense power and such power cannot be destroyed it can only be divided into uniys too small to do much harm. That is the basic intent of the American Constitution (separation of powers) and it has proven a wise one.

   The state, worldwide, does not have so much direct control over the papers. This may be, as the report suggests, because newspapers, being slower movingm can be stopped more easily  anyway. It may also be because the press had come into existence before the mass state and so was more difficult to grab; or that airwaves, being limited, are a natural monopoly that only the state is in a position to control; or that ultimately anybody can set up a paper (in Russia it was the samizdat press) whereas you have to have a large amount of money and equipment to broadcast & so can be grabbed; or that broadcasting is a more powerful particularly at the emotional level so who cares what the papers say.

   Or a mixture of them all.

   As for the press we also need some way of cutting the control of sinmgle owners, families or other cartels.One way would be to prevent owners buying more than 15% of the industry. In fact that is what we do & we have a Monopoly Commission to enforce it. However they let Murdoch past, because he had the "amenity potential" to get the support of politicians.

   He only lost it when he decided he wanted to expand Sky to make it a real competitor for the BBC & they & the Guardian played up a non-story about hacking, with many lies in it, to attack him - a pointed proof of the power of the media and untrustworthiness of those who wield it.

   If the monopoly Commission is too subjective to be left in state hands we could simply make it a firm law that nobody can buy more than 15% of the media. No flexibility.

   For those who already do we can either just make them sell or, if this is too harsh, as corportation tax is reduced in our growing economy, keep an exception to conglomerates who own more than 15% of the media (& perhaps some other industries).. This would mean somebody with a really good business model could continue but anybody making ordinary profits would come under constant pressure to move on.

   I think there is also a strong case for reducing tax rates for workers co-operatives in the media, to an extent that would make them common.

    The dividing line between partnerships, as some programme making companies are & employees co-operatives is more social than legal anyway.

    However it is done a free manistream media is essential to real democracy and we don't have it at the moment.

    "the BBC?s coverage of the issue abandoned the pretence of impartiality long ago.” Jeremy Paxman

Labels: , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

British Blogs.