Exam date

When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

BBC blasted by Culture Select Committee - new regulator?

THIS LONG POST CONTAINS:

  • Analysis of the Culture Select Committee's largely scathing report on the BBC, which had many suggestions for reform of the BBC
  • Details and analysis of media coverage of this, looking at how anti-BBC flak is formulated
  • Specifically the issue of the BBC Trust: will it be scrapped in favour of a new regulator?
  • Brief overview of some of the many other detailed posts on the Beeb


Wow - not a good day for Auntie Beeb; here's a flavour of what they face today, leading off from events yesterday; the Media Guardian's top 10 stories on the morning of 26th February, 2015:
The spectre of Sir Jimmy Saville raised once more, on of the low points in the BBC's entire history; a link made to tax avoidance, the political hot potato of this month given the furore over the HSBC tax avoidance revelations (and then the Telegraph ad revenue story); a clear growing consensus that the license fee must go (just not yet); and strong-worded condemnation of the BBC Trust, the current main regulator of the BBC. The Daily Mail will be loving this!

ANTI-BBC FLAK: THE MAIL'S GLEEFUL REPORT



Thought I'd Google 'daily mail bbc' to verify my assumption ... and, by the way, this was one of Chomsky's claims with the propaganda model, that you can essentially predict how most news organisations will cover a given story based on their existing bias. Shockingly, seems I was right...
A lot of the stories are actually Guardian coverage of the Mail's incessant bombardment of flak towards the BBC, but the Mail's main headline on the Select Committee report can hardly be considered in any way polysemic:
MPs slam BBC bosses for squandering YOUR money and insist license fee must be axed
Note the use of upper case for 'YOUR' - can you feel the rage of this august institution?!

A Mail columnist, Stephen Glover, is also outraged that the pinko BBC have once again shown their liberal, leftie bias through their interpretation of a survey into British Muslim attitudes. While the BBC presented the finding that the majority disagreed with violence as a response to portraying the prophet Muhammad, Glover notes that 27% said they'd some sympathy with the violent response and that this was the story.

It's not an unreasonable point, though does serve to illustrate the right-wing worldview of the Mail; you might agree with Glover that it also highlights the institutional liberal bias of the Beeb. So much for good news as opposed to the negative discourse of most reported 'news'.

I'll get in to the key points from this Select Committee report below, but first a more specific look at the Mail's coverage:


First up, it's inaccurate and misleading - the report states that the license fee will become untenable due to digitisation but that the license fee must stay in place through at least the next ten-year Charter period (2016-26; the BBC's status is reconfirmed and reneotiated each decade and codified in a Royal Charter).

As noted above, with the upper case 'YOUR' the zeal and glee of the Mail to report and amplify on this story is clear. The BBC, as a public sector organisation not governed by 'free market' principles, is an affront to the Mail's right-wing sensibilities ... and, of course, an impediment to its own ambitions to expand into TV, as well as one of the few serious rivals to the Mail Online as a news outlet (whether the 'sidebar of shame' qualifies as news, or just sharp evidence of dumbed down tabloidisation, of the primacy of clickbait over editorial principles, is debatable - it would surely shock and appal the Mail if it belonged to any other media organisation; The Sleaze YOUR Children Are Exposed To?!)

Okay, it's not hard to find anti-BBC flak in the Mail (or any of the other right-wing titles), though note that the headlines here, especially the shorter version on the Committee report, are useful as specific EXamples. Lets tackle the key points of the report ...



NEW BBC REGULATOR?
Before we can discuss this, lets be clear on the Beeb's structure:

  • it is formally and legally independent of government
  • the license fee is undeniably a brutally unfair 'regressive' tax, but it is seen as vital to avoid funding the BBC through government as this would be seen as handing government control
  • management is split between the BBC Trust and the Executive Board
  • whilst mainly self-regulated, OfCom does 
I'm going to quote from the Wiki here - the BBC's own guide is ... well, rubbish (and I'm not alone in thinking this!):.


The Role of OfCom
OfCom already has considerable regulatory power over the 'self-regulating' BBC, and the Select Committee wants to see responsibility further taken away from the BBC for regulating accuracy and impartiality.
Here's what OfCom currently oversees:
19.3.1
Ofcom has certain powers to regulate the BBC's licence fee funded television and radio services aimed at audiences in the UK, but not the World Service which is grant-in-aid funded.  Ofcom's Broadcasting Code applies in the following areas:
  • Protection of under-18s
  • Harm and Offence
  • Avoidance of inciting crime or disorder
  • Responsible approach to religious content
  • Prohibition of use of images of very brief duration
  • Fairness
  • Privacy.
The Editorial Guidelines reflect the provisions of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code in these areas.
19.3.2
In addition, the BBC's commercial services (whether broadcasting to the UK, or from the UK to our international audiences) must comply with the whole of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.
19.3.3
Where Ofcom finds a breach of the privacy or fairness sections of its Code, it may require the BBC to broadcast a statement of its findings.  Where Ofcom considers that the Code has been breached "seriously, deliberately, repeatedly, or recklessly", it can impose sanctions, which range from a requirement to broadcast a correction or statement of finding to a fine of no more than £250,000. 


PREVIOUS POSTS ON/ANALYSIS OF THE BEEB

There are multiple BBC tags you can click on, including simply 'BBC', but also BBC Director General, BBC Trust, BBC Worldwide, and anti-BBC flak.
These are quite a few tagged BBC:
Jan 2015:BBC DG invites flak by suggesting watershed outmoded
The argument that digitisation and the 'timeshifting' (not watching programmes when scheduled but on catch-up devices and systems such as iPlayer) that it brings will make the watershed untenable and redundant. The home of the
TBC


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