Sunday, October 16, 2005

The State Broadcasting Company

The brightest news for me this week has been the launch of Channel 4’d new digital television channel, More 4.

Don’t misunderstand me, most of the stuff on More4 is just as crap as all the other TV networks, except for one thing

They’re showing the Daily Show.

I love the Daily Show and, not having visited the States for over a year now, I’ve missed it.

I won’t waste time enthusing about its finer qualities here, suffice to say it is the best news programme on either side of the Atlantic.

The fact that it is produced for the Comedy Network is significant.

With one or two notable exceptions, British alternative comedians do not tackle the political establishment any more. They supported the New Labour movement en masse back in the 1990s and the worse the New Labour government has behaved the quieter they have become. The hypocritical little gobshites.

It may also come as a surprise to Americans reading that someone from the UK rates a US news show above British domestic product. Countless times I have read or heard educated Americans exclaim how they no longer trust mainstream US news outlets and that they only rely on the BBC to provide reliable information.



Until a couple of years ago the BBC was run by someone appointed largely because he was a major cash donor to the Labour Party. In spite of that, he displayed a certain degree of independence and supported his news team when they exposed the lies behind the ‘dodgy dossier’ that persuaded British people to support the invasion of Iraq. Perversely, he and several others lost their job for performing this valuable public service whilst most of the people responsible for compiling and promoting the dossier received promotions.

Since then, the BBC has been a good little bitch.

Very often it’s just too painful to listen to. Now, more than ever before the BBC truly is the State Broadcasting Service. It’s getting to the point when the stories published by Pravda sometimes seem more reliable. The worm has most definitely turned.

Regular BBC news broadcasts now are composed largely of a mix of the following:

  • A headline Fear Story – terrorism, bird flu, environmental catastrophe etc – the usual subtext being that only government can save us from oblivion

  • The results of a survey commissioned by some pressure group or another looking for air time and loot – ‘the results of a survey of commissioned by the Society for Cheese Safety indicate that not enough money is being spent on researching cheese safety. People will die’ etc

  • Someone reading out a government press release verbatim ‘It is expected that later today the Prime Minister will announce a major new initiative that will eradicate cancer and all infectious diseases by 2015. He’s great’

  • Opportunistic and shameless statements from non elected public bodies or companies that seek to cash in on someone else’s misfortunes that have made the headlines e.g. ‘We're unlikely to see flooding in the UK like that caused by the Boxing Day tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, there is still a significant flood threat here from extreme rainfall and coastal surges," said Environment Agency chief executive Barbara Young caught my eye this week

  • The daily sports news round up

I’m sure that the fact the BBC is going to be allowed to increase the licence fee, that we are all obliged to pay under threat of imprisonment, by 50% is totally unconnected to degradation of independent news content and the almost total extinction of investigative journalism. Personally, being forced to pay a increasingly onerous tax for an organisation that has become an advocate for government and vested interests falls far too much into the 'adding insult to injury' category for my liking.

(category: political stuff)

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