March 24, 2004
The So-called BBCBy Michael Morris
Imagine a huge state broadcasting network in the
Perhaps this fee might cost about $200 every year and there would be no way to opt out — short of getting rid of the offending TV set. It would make no difference whether you watched their channels or not — you would still have to pay the state broadcaster's fee.
Of course, the broadcaster would be kind enough to inform all citizens that illegally operating a television set without a license would land them a prison sentence. As a warning, they'd erect massive billboard posters with a message threatening: 'Get one or get done!'
To enforce this license fee, the state broadcaster might even send men in small unmarked vans — loaded with high—tech signal detection equipment — to residential neighborhoods in order to catch out those citizens with a TV — but no license. Upon arriving at your doorstep, they'd have the legal right to enter and search your home.
There'd better not be any contraband TV found on your property or you could be going away for an involuntary holiday. And finally, there'd be no point in complaining because the state broadcaster would be self regulating, and could not be held to account by any external authority or watchdog.
Of course, we know this is all pure fantasy and it certainly could never happen in a country such as the
However, what has been described to you is the exact — with no exaggeration whatsoever — madness and method that makes the so—called BBC, one of the world's largest media networks with a tax take of approximately $5 billion per year. So next time you're watching BBC America — give thanks to the generosity of the British.
The so—called BBC's taxed finance is what makes it unlike any other major broadcaster in the world, such as CNN or FOX. The tax allows it to operate outside the same market forces that apply to all its main global competitors. In that context, the so—called BBC is in a privileged and unrivalled position.
In practical terms, this means that their news agenda is arbitrarily driven by editors and journalists who don't have to worry about consumers switching off. The so—called BBC can ignore the concept of 'free choice', as it's exempt from having to deal with the reality of a free market.
Supporters of the so—called BBC's license fee argue that it's this exemption from market forces which allows for a more 'independent' point of view. They are asking us to believe that the editors and journalists at the so—called BBC are inherently more 'independent' than either a consumer audience, or the corporations that buy airtime.
Contrary to their opinion, it is plainly obvious to millions of people around the world that the so—called BBC's independence' is a totally relative concept. It may be the 'independent' point of view from the perspective of a left—wing journalist but that doesn't necessarily qualify it as 'independent' for the rest of us.
Every network mentioned so far is biased one way or another in its coverage of major events such as the Iraq War. There is just no point in pretending that FOX is not overtly pro—American. Pretending is not necessary. FOX has every right — including a commercial obligation — to pitch its news coverage from a point of view that matches that of its audience. The so—called BBC has no such commercial excuse. Their only obligation is to represent the views of all the license fee payers — the British population.
As stated by the so—called BBC's own charter — they must: '...treat controversial subjects with due accuracy and impartiality... and...not contain any material expressing the opinion of the corporation.'
Well, they could have fooled me — and that brings us to the issue of semantics, and how the so—called BBC utilize them to by—pass their charter obligations. Where as FOX can unashamedly announce: 'Good luck to our boys in
By now, the reader should be wondering why I insist on using the term 'so—called' — in relation to the BBC.
This is in order to highlight just how powerful semantics are, and how they convey a negative or positive implication in the word or phrase to which they are associated. I haven't had to come out and say: 'I don't like the BBC'. Using semantics, I can convey to the reader — without having to spell it out — that there is something fishy about the so—called BBC.
They do it all the time and prominent targets of this semantic treatment are President Bush, the war on terror, and the
A frequent example is the so—called BBC's: 'so called war on terrorism'. It keeps coming up again and again on their online, radio and TV news output.
Isn't there a war on terror going on right now?
For instance, the following snippet is from a story about the death of Abu Abbas. It was titled 'Cruise ship hijacker dies in
What exactly is wrong with 'global war on terrorism' as a phrase? It may not be the world's most literally esthetic term but is that any reason to wage a campaign of semantic assassination against it?
Of course, it's very clear that the so—called BBC is just intent on denigrating the whole concept of the war on terror, and can propagate that message to hundreds of millions of people across the world — all paid for by the British public.
The next example clearly demonstrates how so—called BBC journalists contradict themselves in the space of a single article.
This report was titled: 'War on terror Africa—style', and appeared on their website
'I came here to see for myself how the Pentagon was fighting its so—called "war on terror'
So which one is it Frank? The war on terror as it appears in the title of the report, or
the 'so—called "war on terror' as it appears a few paragraphs into the very same article.
One minute it's a legit war on terror, the next there is something troubling about the so—called war on terror. Poor Mr Gardner is at best confused, and at worst, spinning semantics in order to cast his own point of view that there is something rotten about the war on terror.
So why do the so—called BBC insist on denigrating the war on terror?
It's a very serious question that must be answered because with their huge reach across the world in various languages — a semantic campaign against the
There are also serious question that need to be asked of the British government. For instance, is it right that the British public — who are evenly split on the issue of the
Is the so—called BBC the source of much of the anti American sentiment throughout
If this is the case, then the
The so—called BBC produces excellent arts, culture and drama programming, of which no—one could complain.
However, the increasingly unrepresentative antiwar stance of its news output is deeply troubling and will at some time have to be addressed and confronted.
Michael Morris is our London Correspondent
Michael Morris is our London Correspondent