Saturday, 16 July 2011

Power without responsibility...

With around three quarters of it's main news bulletins currently devoted to every detail of the 'evil empire' that is apparently destroying our freedoms and everyday life, the BBC relentlessly attacks an eighty year old Australian businessman as if he is responsible for every sin committed by staff on one of his many papers between 2000 and 2007.

The News of the World may well have been involved in phone hacking along with many other British tabloids - and who knows, maybe a few broadsheets as well - and no doubt the CPS will in time prosecute those responsible. And quite rightly many will end up in prison. But the BBC coverage has gone much further than that. This is plainly an attempt by one broadcaster to destroy a rival. The BBC has clearly shown tribal jealousy and partisan hatred for Murdoch and his businesses without widening its coverage when it has clearly been shown that such appalling behaviour has been widely practiced across the British tabloid press.

The BBC has by some margin, neglected it's responsibilities as the dominant national broadcaster in covering important news stories that effect ordinary people over the last two weeks - Obama and US deficit default, the potentially disastrous consequences of Euro problems spreading to Italy, the deepest and most severe drought affecting millions in East Africa... I could go on. Any one of these stories could have consequences for Britain which illegal phone hacking at a tabloid newspaper in order to gain titillating stories over three years ago, is unlikely to have.

This is not how a national broadcaster - funded entirely from a compulsory licence fee - should operate. At best the BBC could be said to have been misguided in pursuing a narrow and partisan political agenda being set by a left-wing newspaper and the Labour party - the parties who have felt most hurt by the views expressed in the News of the World.

At worst, the BBC has malignly used its enormous and highly monopolistic power, to destroy a rival broadcaster without being held to account for the consequences for freedom of expression, pluralism of provision or indeed basic fairness. Murdoch has rightly been criticised for the way in which its papers have allegedly conducted themselves in persuit of bigger and better scoops - using power without responsibility. The BBC is now doing exactly the same. The difference, is that we can choose not to buy Murdoch's offerings. The BBC uses its power in our name.