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.
....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?