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Dear All,

 

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


http://www.economist.com/blogs/bagehot/2010/07/bashing_bbc

 

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:

 

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/gerry-hassan/coming-british-revo
lution

 

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:

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/05/cuts-scroungers-all-
suffer-pain

 

 

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,

Uxbridge,

UB8 3PH.

 

Direct line: 01895 265479

 


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