Dear All,


I thought you might be interested in this defence of the BBC, not least because it comes from an unlikely quarter:


And this is worth looking at too (although it should be called The Coming British Counter-Revolution), as it puts our concerns about the media in a wider context, albeit implicitly:


We are now constantly told that as the public sector is forced to shrink, the private sector will step in and create new jobs. This is the purest wishful thinking, and the very inverse of what is likely to happen. Thus, for example, as the schools rebuilding programme is slashed, jobs will be lost in the construction sector. The illusion has been created, not least by the media, that the private sector is doughtily independent of the hated public sector, whereas in fact it is massively dependent on it for work of all kinds. Similarly, in our field, the ideology preaches that if only the BBC would get out of the way, private media companies would step in and fill the gap. Firstly, there’s not the slightest reason to believe that this would happen; for example, would the private sector provide a channel such as the Asian Network? And secondly, the idea that the BBC website must be savaged so that there’s more room for journalism in the Murdoch/Mail mode would be utterly laughable if it weren’t so tragic. The private/good public/bad opposition is even clearer in the domain of local news. As we know all too well, the local newspaper oligopoly has absolutely decimated local news provision across the country. So what’s the solution? Why, of course, give them even more power still, and allow, indeed encourage, the formation of local cross-media monopolies. No other solution, particularly one involving public money or industry levies, is even thinkable, such is the rigidity of the ideological dogma which now holds sway.


The kind of hate campaigns against the public sector run by papers such as the Daily Mail are clearly intended to make public sector workers (and I include us in that category) into a form of folk devil. More broadly, people have been persuaded that they’re not actually part of the public at all – which consists simply of bureaucratic pen-pushers and tea-swillers along with a ragtag and bobtail of the feckless, the scrounger, the immigrant and the asylum seeker. Are they going to get a shock when the cuts start to hit them personally! If you haven’t seen this already, it’s really worth reading:



The point of all this, however, is not simply to have a rant, but to argue again that we need to put our defence of public service media in the wider context of a defence of public services of all kinds – indeed, we seem now to need to explain and defend the very notion of the public. My own view is that as the cuts start to bite, and whatever scapegoats the media try to blame for what is going to be a hideous situation, people may come to understand the importance of the public sector to their lives rather better than they do now. They may also realise that a time of crisis there is a greater need than ever for reliable, informative journalism across all the media (and not the kind of journalism which has repeatedly puffed a fraudulent  economic dogma, and then, when this has brought us to the brink of ruin, argued that all that can save us are public spending cuts). Anyway, these are some thoughts ahead of our next meeting. And maybe we could organise a panel at the next MeCCSA conference which focuses precisely on this issue and puts the threats to public service media in their wider context.     


All the best, Julian.


Julian Petley,

Professor of Screen Media and Journalism,

School of Arts,

Brunel University,


UB8 3PH.


Direct line: 01895 265479


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