Thursday, 9 December 2010

Is the BBC a threat to plurality & independence?

State-sponsored journalism is a threat to the plurality and independence of news provision, which are so important for our democracy claimed James Murdoch to widespread derision from the mainstream media in his MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August 2009. Today we might begin to understand what he meant.

Right across the BBC - numerous TV channels, more than thirty radio stations & volumes of online content - the agenda continues unabated: who will rebel against the government on tuition fees? And you would be forgiven for thinking that the outcome will alter all our lives irrevocably for the worse. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Ordinary people up and down this country think it's a no-brainer. Students, who benefit enormously from a degree qualification and will be earning over £21,000 before they are asked to pay something back, should shoulder a greater amount of that cost than the low paid. The low paid of course, currently pay for that degree and will never have the opportunity to earn that amount in their lifetime. Its called fairness, and its about time the BBC began to reflect what ordinary people think. Not just the sectional interests of a small but vociferous minority which fits their way of thinking.

A year ago at the Copenhagen climate conference, an army of correspondents dominated news bulletins reporting every last disagreement and suggesting that without an agreed outcome, the world would come to an end. A year later in Cancun, the BBC report nothing. Nothing on climate change that is. Only that Chris Huhn might vote against tuition fees. From Mexico.

Could this have anything to do with the coldest winter for 30 years and records showing no global warming has occured over the last 15 years despite increasing levels of CO2 emmissions?  No? That's just 'weather' not 'climate' right? Or is it just another example of editorial group-think? Similar to the much-criticised group-think amongst bankers that led to the greatest financial disaster for sixty years?

The power of the BBC is enormous. Its involved in every major area of our lives, setting the environment in which events are reported, discussed and decided upon. We need to be constantly questioning whether the BBC is reporting news in an unbiased and honest way. Or does it have an agenda set by group-think? Is it involved in a form of social engineering for its own sectional interests?