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Monday, September 03, 2012

Is The BBC Licence Fee Legal?

   Bishop Hill recently, predictably, lost the last in a series of FoI's intended to discover the identities of what The BBC have given their word were "leading scientists" they consulted in a private meeting before coming to the conclusion that catastrophic global warming was so universally accepted that they could ignore their Charter obligation of "balance".

    The waiver under which they won was that this is journalism - an exception nominally put in to allow journalists to protect their sources, but used by the BBC to allow them almost total secrecy.

    The real reason they refused to make it public is that their description of the people at that meeting, while representing the absolute pinnacle of honesty to which anybody at the BBC ever aspires, was a total lie. It was just a BBC selected group of econazis. Of course if I am wrong the Beeboids could sue me for saying untruths about them - but they would have to prove I was wrong.

   However this fits with a promised legal action by Michael Mann for which Dellors has offered his amused support. Mann is promising to sue a publisher who reported he was effectively a charlatan. As Dellors points out any such suit would mean the defence would have a right to view the very emails Mann has been trying to withhold from a FoI enquiry. Mann has gone to great lengths to fight that FoI in the courts - one reason would be that he fears they would show him to be a charlatan, there may bne other reasons but it is not known what they might be.

    The BBC connection here would be that  "collection and enforcement of the licence fee is the responsibility of the BBC in its role as TV Licensing Authority" which suggests they would, in the same way, be subject to having to let the defence see internal evidence that the BBC had vitiated their Charter by breaching the "due balance" requirement.

    That means they would be required to show the balanced list of "leading scientists" who allegedly told them they ought to censor sceptical reporting of CAGW.
        And if it turned out not to be a balanced list but merely the normal ecofascist suspects they would have vitiated their charter - at least as regards collecting the licence fee from sceptics.
     A further complication is that the European Court has already faced an action on the licence fee. In that occasion they won.
Some critics claim that the licensing system interferes with the freedom to receive information and contend that this is a contravention of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to freedom of expression).The ECHR in Application No. 26907/95 stated "Such an undertaking cannot be successfully accomplished unless it is grounded in the principle of pluralism, of which the State is the ultimate guarantor." and "The interference complained of was, therefore, necessary in a democratic society. There is, accordingly, no appearance of a violation of the applicant's right under Article 10 (Art. 10)."
   The Principle of pluralism being that "States should regulate the airwaves to provide for a plurality of voices. State monopolies are incompatible with  the right of the people to receive information from a variety of sources. Simply allowing private broadcasters, however, is not enough....."

   Fairly typical weasel wording to allow state meddling and control but it is quite clear that this makes having a state monopoly (a monopoly being 70%+ of news coverage) which does not actively adhere to the "balance2 the BBC Charter requires a breach of our human rights.

   There is no question that the BBC refuses to  provide any sort of balance in their coverage of alleged catastrophic warming (or many other things). The BBC themselves paid for the Jones report on science coverage to justify them not doing so.

   The BBC claim the meeting of a balanced group of "leading scientists", as justification for that policy. Was it a sufficiently balanced meeting of "leading scientists" to make this imbalance balanced - they say it was but refuse to say who was in it. A search would show.

    There is one question over what would appear to be an open and shut case. Though the BBC administer enforcement of the licence it is legally a tax
The BBC is authorised by the Communications Act 2003 to collect the licence fees. The money received is first paid into the Government's Consolidated Fund. It is subsequently included in the 'vote' for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in that year's Appropriation Act, and passed on to the BBC for the running of the BBC's own services
 Thus the government could claim that the BBC are simply 3rd parties being directly funded by the state and that the licence fee is an unrelated tax which we pay to the government and thus have no right to know if the BBC attempts honesty. However if that were said it would be an admission/claim that the BBC has no independence from the government, who enforce no duty of balance, which again makes it illegal and a breach of our human rights under the ECHR. Catch 22.

  Of course it needs testing.

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Comments:
Asking a group of leading scientists - even if they are genuine - does not reduce the right of those who are not scientists to be heard.

Take e.g. the issue of childbirth. In this case the "experts" are medics. Applying the BBC principle, they would ask a group of senior medics whether childbirth should be seen as a medical condition that should be supervised by medics, or whether it should be seen as a "normal" supervised by midwives.

Then remember that in the US, childbirth is a medical condition and that medics have convinced patients to dress in gowns and eliminated midwives.

If the UK were like the US, the BBC would approach doctors, they would say midwives have no medical training, etc. etc., and the BBC would never put the case for midwife led birth.

That is why the BBC are not required to be impartial about science, they are required to be impartial between the experts and others with a view. Something that if any of us had the money would easily be proven in court.
 
True.

If the BBC were being sincere in using the excuse for science coverage, which is what their report purported to do, they would be censoring anybody who says nuclear plants are dangerous would be refused airtime because there is certainly a consensus among nuclear scientists that it is the safest way of producing power.

Of course they are not sincere & it is worth pointing out that their claims are dishonest on many more than 1 level.
 
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