Thursday, 26 April 2012

BBC worse than the Murdoch media

More questioning of the Murdochs at Leveson this week, more righteous posturing by the BBC.

While Nick Robinson and the Westminster commentariat pore over The Family's latest evasions and manipulation of government ministers, BBC reporters have predictably little to say about their own servility and ability to spike key information.

Part 2 of an excellent Media Lens alert piece on the government's historic dismantling of the NHS asks why the BBC have failed to scrutinise the (innocuously-named) Health and Social Care Bill, investigate the corporate elites who stand to benefit from this last, mass privatisation or cover the widespread protests against it, including the alarmed objections of almost every major medical body.

It's a startling examination from Media Lens detailing the carve-up of our most-cherished public institution, with professionally-considered warnings that "people will die" as a direct consequence of the legislation now passed by parliament.

The damning question for our media is why so few people are actually aware of the bill's dark provisions and calamitous implications.

In a penetrating email, ML asked Robinson why the BBC has offered only a cursory and sanitised account of the issue. No response came back. This was despite Robinson previously contacting ML itself requesting feedback on levels of 'impartialty' within his own field of domestic reporting. Another fig-leaf 'journalistic' exercise tested and found wanting.

Besides noting the executive connections of at least two senior BBC governing figures, Lord Patten and Mike Lynch OBE, to NHS-linked medical firms, ML also highlight the BBC's more institutional reluctance to make difficult waves on key political stories.

As ex-BBC correspondent Tim Llewellyn observes (for ML), there's an increasing "climate of fear" and a deep aversion to risk-taking across the organisation:
"it has become an institution that does not like any longer to take anyone on or to challenge received ideas or vested interests or risk being seen to take sides. There is no backbone left in current affairs programmes; news operates on the principle that X says Y and Y says X and this adversarial knockabout is a substitute for real analysis and questioning."
As with its timid, negligent coverage of Palestine/Israel, the understood remit is to:
"Leave well alone, report the surface, filter any controversies through studio debates and Question Time, arenas in which, of course, "balance" can be seen to be being practised." 
It was also noteworthy, in this regard, that, while Channel 4 News (not the most radical of media outlets) were officially barred this week from entering Bahrain, the BBC were given a welcome permit to cover the Formula 1 event and connected protests. One can but assume that this royal dictatorship, like Saudi Arabia, feel sufficiently trusting of the BBC not to report the conflict in a way that over-vilifies a key Western ally.

As with Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria, the BBC can be relied upon to keep any 'investigative' questions on Western aggression to a comfortable minimum - all under the respectable fabrication of 'balanced' reportage.

But the careful marginalisation of the NHS issue illustrates how the BBC also helps keep crucial, sensitive issues at home effectively under wraps.  As with its reserved coverage of British foreign policy, people will die and suffer in hospital wards here due to political action which the BBC has served to conceal.

For all its well-publicised sins, including support for every Western-inflicted war, the influential Murdoch empire, driven primarily by the profit motive, does not command the same automatic respect and public-serving aura of the BBC, a privilege which invests in the latter the very essence of a reliable and trustworthy provider of news and information.

So, in terms of suppressing vital public information, supporting Britain's mass killing, covering the political establishment's back and maintaining a gatekeeper check on any form of dissent, which organisation is the most guilty, Murdoch's or the BBC?

The very suggestion that the BBC could even be equated with Murdoch's villainous crimes and intrigues will seem far-fetched to many - and preposterous to 'self-examining' people like Robinson.

But measured by the overall confidence placed in their respective outlets and the scale of actual distortion, omission and protection, the complicit (in)actions and propaganda function of the BBC places the Murdoch operation in a league well below the premier position of our state media.


1 comment:

M.K. Hajdin said...

I just tried to leave a comment on a BBC story about Type 2 diabetes pointing out the mountain of evidence that diabetes is actually genetic. The story attempted to blame it on the eating habits of patients. My comments were perfectly polite, but they were suppressed by the moderators. It's official: the Beeb is worse than the Daily Fail. At least the Mail allows commenters to express opposing views.