Wednesday, March 30, 2005

It's a Left Wing Media Conspiracy

I have to be honest here and admit that I've never really taken this accusation seriously. I've always thought that people who speak about a left wing media conspiracy are just doing it to annoy people from the left. Now that I've started using the interweb to get more of my information, I've made a startling discovery (startling for me anyway). I've started to realise that there are a lot of people who actually believe in this conspiracy theory. I am astonished. I cannot see how a rational person could possibly think this way. As I've been busy today and haven't caught up on the news, and as I've been thinking about doing a post on this issue for a little while, here it is:

I wrote I Believe in the BBC a while back. To me, it seems to stand well enough on its own, even if I would like to edit it slightly. As I understand it, this would defeat the whole point of blogging and so it stands as I wrote it. To emphasis the point I was trying to make, I've found this from one of my all time favourite authors:
"Television companies are not in the business of delivering television programmes to their audience, they're in the business of delivering audiences to their advertisers. (This is why the BBC has such a schizophrenic time - it's actually in a different business from all its competitors.)"
Taken from The Salmon of Doubt, What have we got to lose? p116, Douglas Adams.

Just to state what I hope is obvious, almost all media sources are funded by advertising and this is likely to have an impact on the programmes, articles, and news items which they create. You can imagine a situation where an editor, faced with a choice about whether to publish a negative news story concerning one of his or her largest revenue providers, would be unlikely to risk losing such revenue by publishing the story. It is just possible that this is why you can still buy a certain brand of filtered tap water in some countries, but you cannot buy it in the UK.

When the BBC says that it can do certain things because of the unique way it is funded, it isn't just a slogan. It can publish news stories which other stations cannot. It is that simple. Next time you complain about paying the licence fee, think about how many bottles of filtered tap water you've been saved from buying. Do you really want all of your news sources to be funded by advertisers? Not for me, thank you.

Don't write in and complain until you've read the small print. I like Channel 4 News. I watch it regularly and I often find that the coverage has better depth than BBC news. I'm not questioning the integrity of all privately funded news sources. The point is that without the BBC, the pressure on these sources would be much greater. Jon Snow can say to his editor "Yes, we should run this story. You know the BBC will run it and we must too!" The advertisers know this too, so they are less likely to try to cover up the story. They know they don't have the power which they do in some other countries. It's all because the BBC is independently funded.

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