Exam date

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

Saturday, 14 April 2018

CHOMSKY SYRIA propaganda model in effect

28 and 7 years ago, with the 8-year Gulf War 2 starting in between 15 years ago, we got classic case studies of the propaganda model in full effect. From the neutral-by-law BBC to the 'centre-left' Guardian in the UK, and across the US media (and every one of Murdoch's huge global empire of newspapers) government military action in the middle east, launched without UN legal approval, received supportive coverage. Huge public anti-war demonstrations received minimal mainstream coverage.

Chomsky himself has spoken at length on how the (then threatened) attack against Syria fitted his model (easy enough to find from a simple search). The alternative news media paints a very different picture from the mainstream, mass media of the UK, US, French and Israeli bombings.

Here's two contrasting examples, one unpicking the rhetoric of coverage in major US and UK media, the other a piece from The Guardian, whose centre-left readership will be broadly hostile to military action abroad (but seen as persuadable if it's for 'humanitarian' causes), and certainly hostile to the Tory PM who is uncritically quoted at length (source strategies) until the end of the lengthy article when Corbyn's objections are mentioned.

'No alternative': Theresa May sends British jets to join air strikes on Syria https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/14/theresa-may-britain-air-strikes-syria-chemical-weapons-raf?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger


Sunday, 8 April 2018

DAILY MAIL in RACISM row IPSO third party rejection

From Zelo-Street blog
Tad sardonic there, but whether Quentin Letts' direct question (was actor cast because he's black [is it cos he's black to paraphrase Ali G, a no more preposterous voice one could argue]) is racist or not what is also noteworthy is that ...

... Once again there's no mention (yet, at least) of IPSO, this is largely a Twitter-based row.
Guardian: Daily Mail's Quentin Letts accused of 'racist attitude' in theatre review.


IPSO reject third party complaint
Daily Mail columnist accused the RSC of politically correct tokenism for casting a black actor in a Shakespearean role. This quickly led to a Twitter-based argument, and in turn to an IPSO complaint. Somewhat surprisingly (to me anyway), IPSO rejected the complaint (of breaching editors’ Code Clause 12: Discrimination) as it did not come from the actor highlighted by Letts.

My surprise comes from IPSO’s apparent resolve to do better than its predecessor the PCC with third party complaints (ie, someone other than the subject of press content complaining), which had been repeatedly and specifically highlighted by the Culture Select Committee as a key failing of the PCC. That issue was also highlighted over the Stephen Gateley/Jan Moir case (also Daily Mail, generally the most-complained about paper).

The 'Zelo-Street' blog (rather angrily) covered this in detail.

IPSO's seeming backtracking on this does not suggest it is likely to evolve into an especially effective regulator. It is one thing for it still to focus only on retrospective consideration of published contents and ignore all structural aspects of the press (such as the lack of pluralism, concentration of ownership), but to continue wilfully ignoring possible breaches of their Code if the article subject doesn't complain is not encouraging.

The negative publicity the tweets brought could be seen as therefore at least contributing to some censure of the Mail while its regulator refuses to consider whether or not it has been guilty of breaching Clause 12 Discrimination.

Here's a few samples of the tweets (NB: one contains strong language)...

From Letts' own Twitter feed

Monday, 26 March 2018

ANTITRUST REGULATION Should new media giants be broken up?

TERMINOLOGY - very useful neologism/mnemonic below: GAFA...
The Murdoch press enjoys a dominant market position in the UK with no hint of any regulatory action (unless left-wing Labour leader wins the next election) from government or the self-'regulator' IPSO. Yet his corporation's handling of sport rights once more sees clear evidence of the tough regulatory environment for broadcast media compared to 'print' media.
Guardian: 21st Century Fox's London office raided in market abuse inquiry.

A useful primer, including a quote from Adam Smith, on the history of and current clamour for enforcement of antitrust laws.

In a nutshell these exist to combat market dominance by single companies (or colluding cartels), seen as to the detriment of customers.

Elliot, the Guardian Economics editor, references historical cases of oil, and 1980s action on AT+T (US equivalent of BT in the UK or Post in Luxembourg), but he could also have referenced action against a forerunner of the modern cinema big six, forced to vertically DE-integrate before gradual deregulation allowed this dominance to return.

Microsoft were desperate for Apple to survive during its 90s crises, as it helped put off antitrust action against them.

Elliot cites the GAFA crew, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, but Comcast and Disney also are worthy of such consideration as they clamber above even global media barons such as Murdoch, who faces Disney buying his film empire and Comcast his prized TV empire.

(See Guardian article, Is it time to break up the tech giants such as Facebook?, for more on this)

The argument goes like this. Data is as vital to the modern digital economy as oil was a century ago. The tech giants have the same sort of monopoly power that Standard Oil once had (Google and Facebook accounted for two-thirds of online advertising spending in the US last year and Amazon was responsible for 75% of online book sales). Mark Zuckerberg might wear chinos rather than the top hat sported by Rockefeller but a robber baron is a robber baron. It is time for anti-trust legislation to be used to break up Facebook, Google and Amazon.
The charge sheet is a long one: the tech giants are exploiting their monopoly power to stifle competition; they are spreading fake news; their fantastically rich owners portray themselves as right-on yet go to a great deal of trouble to minimise their corporate tax bills; they are ripping the heart out of communities through the closure of bricks-and-mortar retailers. To the list can now be added (in Facebook’s case) the harvesting of the personal data of 50 million Americans and its use for political purposes. 
No question, Big Tech is more vulnerable to a backlash from Washington than it has ever been. Companies have outgrown management systems that were not designed for systemically important businesses and have used their market power to gobble up rivals. It is this charge – that the disruptive startup companies of yesteryear are today’s anti-capitalists – that creates the biggest risk of anti-trust action.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

HACKING ex-PM Brown wants Times prosecution

Interesting to see if anything happens over this. A 'confession' of criminal activity is now in the public domain, though The Times' last statement on this illegal 'blagging' of Brown's financial details, from 2011, denies culpability.

Leveson2 might have unpicked and exposed systematic, anti-democratic abuse of power like this, but has been blocked by a government supported by Murdoch's papers.

The parties are different, but the interference in the democratic process has parallels to the Sun's destruction of Culture (then 'Heritage') Secretary David Mellor's career by publishing a classic 'sex scandal' that forced his resignation and killed his career.

Mellor's' crime'? He infamously pronounced the press was "drinking in the last chance saloon" - but after his sacking his Tory government refused to engage with Lord Calcutt's review (recommending statutory regulation). A familiar story.

Gordon Brown calls for police inquiry into Sunday Times story https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/mar/22/gordon-brown-calls-for-police-inquiry-into-sunday-times-story?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

BBFC Should smoking require age rating?

There are tight legal limits to tobacco advertising (ditto alcohol) in the UK, but influence is greatest when audiences consume media texts they don't consider advertising.

A new content analysis study of smoking representations in the most popular US network and Netflix shows highlights the continued glamourisation of smoking through TV and film, with other studies pointing the finger at Disney and Fox for smoking scenes in a high proportion of PG-13 releases.

Should the BBFC (and MPAA) act on this to enforce restrictions?

Stub it out: Netflix criticised for too many smoking scenes https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/mar/20/netflix-criticised-for-too-many-smoking-scenes?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

OFCOM No tomorrow for Russia Today

See also. Russian voices in western media leave regulators with new type of headache


This could be seen as undermining OfCom's notional separation or independence from government, though as a quango that's only quasi-autonomous.

Reports claim the news channel Russia Today could lose its license not because of breaking any content regulation but because of politics and foreign relations. If the UK government of Tory PM May pushes for sanctions against Russia for its alleged poisoning attack on British soil then the Russian state links to RT will mean its license is expunged (removed).

OfCom has taken this before with an Iran-spinsored, sorry, sponsored, channel - but that was over multiple content regulation breaches, not directly because of the link to Iran.

The RT story comes at a time when US president Trump has attacked RT as state propoganda, though then again he uses 'mainstream media' as a term of abuse and lumps just about all US domestic news outlets into his beloved 'fake news' category. Fox News and a few far-right outlets get a pass. Is this the 'special relationship' with the UK showing itself?

Labour, the more left-wing UK opposition party, has also joined in the attack, suggesting it's MPs should not appear on RT.

I wonder if Facebook (and Twitter) will effectively enforce any ban? I'd argue that this is how RT is most widely consumed, as video clips posted by mostly leftist Facebook groups and campaigners, such as the former (expelled) Labour MP George Galloway. HOW would that work?

Then there's the very simple technology of VPN, making your IP appear as from another country, which could get round any UK ban. With major channels such as BBC3 now online only there is clearly industry recognition of the online migration of viewing habits; 'time-shifting' is becoming the norm in the Netflix, iPlayer era.

Russian broadcaster RT could be forced off UK airwaves https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/mar/13/russian-broadcaster-rt-hits-back-at-threat-to-uk-licence?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Friday, 9 March 2018

PLURALISM OWNERSHIP Liberal left media a myth?

The online challenge to mass media consensus
Interesting 'radical' take on the British media, linking the structural power of a bank to the shrinking of any notional counter-hegemonic, leftist voice.

I was surprised to learn that The Guardian is the biggest recipient of HSBC advertising, not the Telegraph, which notoriously spiked a critical column to, it was widely seen, protect it's crucial ad revenues. Moreover, it is no longer owned by a charitable trust - must check on that, as that claim (this is a detailed article with many hyperlinked sources) fatally undermines the identity of the paper as a bulwark against the billionaire press barons.

From the intro:
When I and others accuse the British media of systematic and consistent bias in favour of corporate power, and point out that the media is structurally part of that system of corporate power, we typically receive emails from readers arguing that not all parts of the media are subject to such pressures. Britain, we are told, is privileged to have two “liberal” media outlets, the BBC and Guardian, that are seen either as neutral or as a leftwing counterbalance to the rightwing agenda of the rest of the media.
Occasionally, it is also claimed that Britain’s media regulator, Ofcom, is there to prevent bias, ensuring that minimum standards of objectivity are maintained in news coverage.
Here are three illuminating articles and a short video that should help to dispel any such illusions about a healthy and diverse British media. Rather, the media in the UK is embedded in the corporate world, and therefore incapable of fulfilling its self-declared role as watchdog against abuses by the powerful.
Arguably more elevated than 'citizen journalism', but another good example of a freelancer puncturing the bubble of mainstream mass media through his efforts, primarily distributed through blog and other social media platforms such as Facebook.

See also the likes of Another Angry Blogger, The Canary and Jonathan Pie... more influential than the press to a younger generation?
Part of the Jonathan Pie online operation, with Facebook arguably his most impactive platform