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The Power of State Broadcasters?

by Sven Triloqvist Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 03:47:58 AM EST

BBC's Robert Peston in furious face-to-face row with James Murdoch

The BBC's business editor, Robert Peston, was involved in an astonishing slanging match with James Murdoch following the News Corporation chief's speech to television executives in Edinburgh where he accused the BBC of mounting a "land grab".

Peston, like other BBC executives, was critical of Murdoch's MacTaggart lecture to the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International TV festival on Friday, in which the News Corp chairman and chief executive in Europe and Asia described the size and ambitions of the BBC as "chilling".

Murdoch also heavily criticised the media industry regulator, Ofcom, calling for regulation to be scaled down, and accused the government of "dithering" and failing to protect British companies from the consequences of online piracy.

<snip>

....Murdoch made his Edinburgh speech 20 years after his father Rupert's lecture, which lambasted the "anti-commercial attitudes" of the British broadcasting establishment, particularly the BBC.


There is a lot to criticize in the BBC, but news coverage (I would have thought) is not one of them. BBC straight news coverage is widely trusted (worldwide), even if the opinion part of news analysis can show bias. (as shown in all news coverage organizations)

What makes the BBC different from the Murdoch (or any other) media empire, is the BBC Trust and the Main and regional Audience Councils and Editorial Standards Committee.

The BBC Trust costs nearly 12 m quid a year to run. Chairman Michael Lyons gets a base fee of 143.000 a year. The Trustees are largely Establishment figures split 50/50, male/female.

There's a support staff of 60 called the Trust Unit with specialists in audience research, performance analysis, and finance.

There has been considerable outside criticism of the Trust for such stuff as the high payments to celebrity performers such as Jonathan Ross, and a few expensive junkets organized by Trustees. But most of the criticism goes the other way, with the Trust bringing other BBC parts to account.

To me, the interesting part of the BBC Trust is the ACE /Audience Council England)

.. created upon establishment of the BBC Trust in January 2007. It replaced the Broadcasting Council of England which had many responsibilities the present council now has. ACE plays a key role helping the BBC Trust understand the needs, interests and concerns of audiences. There are other councils for the other three nations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The council meets at least six times per year to assess the BBC's performance in England. It can meet in various locations around the nation. The regional council chairs will give their regions view on the various BBC services, both national and regional, as well as provide their contribution to the Trust's formal consultations.

The members are not mainstream (London) Establishment, more your local civic-minded citizens.

The new Trust system is not total bottom-up, but it offers considerably more audience participation than before, and certainly offers something that Murdoch can't understand when he describes "the size and ambitions of the BBC as "chilling".

The power of the media is, naturally, exploited by politicians. De Gondi has provided us with excellent coverage of the kidnapped media in Italy (where state broadcaster RAI is 'owned' by Parliament). In Finland, state broadcaster Yle has always been a  political football. I plan to write more about Yle in the future.

What about the state broadcaster in your country?

How can we preserve the proletarian vision of the Fourth Estate as a check on the other three?

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Murdoch's MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival is here on video.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 03:54:39 AM EST
Murdoch is the least of your problems in an unregulated broadcasting environment.

Tune your shortwave to any of the broadcast bands and you'll find them filled with high-powered religious stations. Listening only to American AM and shortwave radio, one would conclude that the world is run by conservative evangelical Christians.

by asdf on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 12:18:39 PM EST
Just noticed that "A broadcast [of Radio Caroline] on 531 KHz is taking place over the holiday weekend of 28/31 August 2009" according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Caroline

I can't hear it over on this side of the world, and don't see it on the web. Anybody over there with a radio?

A rejuvenated Radio Northsea International is on the web at http://rni.net.ms/ if you care about this sort of thing...  

by asdf on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 06:29:00 PM EST
by asdf on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 07:16:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, asdf!!  Just got rni and it's time-place machine. It's making my evening and yes, I can stand it turned up versus most radios, even if I date myself:  "Gloriaaaaa".

I've been having trouble connecting to KVOD since I installed the ___ ie8 and this is a great switch.  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Wed Sep 2nd, 2009 at 04:24:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear Mr Murdoch,

While you appear willing to provide TV stations completely in thrall to individual political parties, Provide Politically biased news, and go to court for the right to lie in news broadcasts, As someone willing to subvert political systems, why should you even be allowed to transmit television inside our countries?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 07:33:39 PM EST
To summarize the irony mutations:
Murdoch.... land grab... chilling.... the industry shared Murdoch's concerns... dominance of Sky... suffocating... diminution of regulation

Can't wait for jimmy to address the anglo print media and not call it a staff meeting.  

Our RTVEspañola is in transition, again, to go ad-free and even so commercial radio-tv's are crying 'state monopoly' because there will be supporting fees to pay by them and the telcos.  I suppose there was no way a socialist government was going to suggest a public fee set up, in this recession.  Next year we are supposed to go through analog black-out and into hdtv, whatever that means...  

During the Aznar years (1996-2004), the news were blatantly PP, rightwing biased to the point that the news director (Urdaci) 'was resigned', after being forced to make a live statement correcting his pro-aznar  reporting.  I don't remember if it was related to his blaming ETA for the March 11 bombing, or some previous lie, because there were plenty from 2000-2004.  Shortly after, aznar became a €10k/month, News Corp bored-member...., quickly forgetting to report that income for tax purposes.  

After Zapatero was elected, the public finally heard that RTVE had a €600 million deficit, off-budget!, besides RENFE and other state enterprises that are still too hot to print, or view.  It was added to the national budget and the PP immediately  screamed 'overspending'.

In 2004 it was also pushed to resemble fair and balanced reporting and it has improved a lot.  On the other hand, commercials went up in number, in volume and much lower in 'quality demographics', but I don't know if it has reached a balanced budget.  The 2nd RTVE president since 2004 has added a bunch of bottom-of-barrel programs too, but they don't seem to last because commercial stations are full of them.  

It seems like slow progress overall.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Wed Sep 2nd, 2009 at 06:53:26 PM EST
What future for media and journalism?

This is the text of the Richard Dunn Memorial Lecture, given at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival by Robert Peston, at 12.30pm on Saturday 29 August 2009. In it, the BBC's business editor looks at the future of news journalism.


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 at 03:10:24 AM EST


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