The revelations earlier this month of phone hacking taking place at News International may have somewhat damaged Rupert Murdoch's empire, but they have also shone a light on the ethics of the British Media industry as a whole. I may not be experienced or qualified enough to cast a serious judgement on which direction the scandal will travel next, but I would not be surprised if issues similar to those at the News of the World arose at a number of other national newspapers.
Without pointing the finger, certain titles have kept surprisingly quiet in their coverage of "hackgate". On the days of key developments, these titles splashed their front pages with stories about table salt being safe to eat and our sports teams wearing kit with EU flags on. You are more than welcome to google whether salt is safe to eat or not, but I'm going to continue. It is clear that the illegal methods used to gain cheap stories by journalists spread far further than the News International offices in Wapping.
The British press has a lot to answer for. Yet, instead of apologising for betraying the trust of their readers before the police uncover evidence against them, some papers seem to be using this time to vent their anger and frustration at their usual victim; the BBC. One of the Sunday papers published an article this weekend criticising the dominance of the Beeb. Meanwhile, certain others continue to make up pretty much any old crap about the broadcaster, and probably won't stop until it is reduced to the size of a student radio station.
If you, like the editorial staff of the Mail and power hungry members of the Murdoch family, have caught the unnecessary, yet incurable Beeb Hatred Bug, they don't bother reading on. However, if you use the BBC's services but think, having read articles and reports in newspapers, that you may have a few issues with it, I urge you to continue.
Yes, of course it dominates the British media industry. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, and has a constant source of income via television license fees, so doesn't have to worry about the wellbeing of the commercial market. It has been growing at a steady rate since its establishment in 1927. It runs the most watched television channel, the most listened to radio station, and the most read news website in the UK. It employs over 23,000 people worldwide and has a weekly audience reach of over 38,000,000 in the UK alone.
If all this power was in the hands of Rupert Murdoch, Richard Desmond, or any sole individual for that matter, I would be extremely worried. But it isn't, it's owned by us. We pay for it, and we have overall control. If we didn't believe it broadcast quality programming, we wouldn't tune in in our millions on a daily basis, and the BBC would be nothing. A media organization is nothing without its viewers, listeners or readers. But, the Beeb's power is down to more than just quality. Britain has helped to build up its national broadcaster into the biggest in the world for one simple reason; we trust it.
Why? Maybe it's because it's spent eighty-four years providing impartial news without an underlying agenda. In an ever-changing industry which is constantly developing exciting new ways to digest news and entertainment, our national broadcaster has continuously adapted to fit in with new technological progresses, whilst keeping the three letters which bring a sense of familiarity to the corporation. The journalism that the BBC has offered for so long is at a level of neutrality that is equalled nowhere else on Earth.
Earlier on this year, when citizens of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya were beginning their campaigns against undemocratic rule, it was only a matter of days before they focused on overturning the biased, state owned news providers that they had been subjected to for generations. Every single person on this planet is entitled to a free and fair news service, and the BBC fills that requirement better than any other. The people of countries like China, North Korea and Zimbabwe are still deprived of such a basic right; the right to access the truth. Americans have a vast choice of news sources, but the majority have a core political agenda. In Britain, we are privileged to have the BBC. It is a national institution which, alongside the NHS, is embedded in the principal values that sum up our country.
Every aspect of the BBC is under intense scrutiny from contending media bodies. The national press is brutal towards it, as are broadcasters, albeit in a slightly less obvious way. Earlier on this year, digital speech radio station TalkSport publicly complained that its BBC counterpoint Five Live wasn't covering enough serious news or minority sports. This complaint, naturally, had nothing to do with that fact that Five Live was trouncing TalkSport in listening figures week in, week out. I would challenge you to read through a copy of the Daily Mail and find a single positive report about the BBC, but that wound involve you purchasing it, which is something I thoroughly discourage (unless you're out of kitchen roll).
The Beeb is criticised frequently by its rivals for everything from leaving two pillocks alone in a radio studio with a telephone, to supposedly showing ageism when casting Question Time (which is hosted by 72 year-old David Dimbleby). I call them "rivals", but in truth, no other media organization in Britain could dream of taking on the BBC. The proof of this is scattered all around for all to see. On early evening television, terrestrial channels have worked their teatime news bulletins around the BBC for decades, avoiding the six o'clock slot for fear of annihilation by the Beeb's national news. On breakfast radio, the Today show is the only speech based news programme in the UK, because its credibility and popularity has not, is not, and will not be topped. On the ever revolutionising internet, Rupert Murdoch's minions at TimesOnline threw in the towel when fighting the BBC News website for web traffic in 2010, building a paywall around the site in a desperate attempt for cash.
Let's be honest; it's the underlying jealousy of these facts that push the criticisers of the BBC to speak out. The Mail whinges about the BBC repeating its most popular programmes. If I had a pound for every excessively repeated article I've read in the Mail, I wouldn't be blogging right now, I'd be sunning myself on the side of my pool in Barbados. The Sun moans about the amount the BBC pays some of the most sought after stars in the industry. Meanwhile, the tabloids pay millions every month to inform the Great British public which footballer has their pants down each week. Sky News sulked after the BBC broadcast a live performance by Madonna which included expletives, yet was after the watershed. The live on-location broadcasts during the day on Sky have hardly been seamless lately. I'm pretty sure the Daily Mail couldn't really care less about how many times BBC Three shows Doctor Who. I'm definitely sure The Sun doesn't give a damn how much money BBC presenters earn. I'm certain that Sky News wouldn't bat an eyelid at Madonna swearing on live television if it was on ITV.
Whilst the Beeb faces this constant barrage of intimidation, it just carries on doing what it does best by serving the public. No matter what mud may be slung its way, our public broadcaster just keeps trundling on, as it has done for the past eighty-four years. I, for one, am looking forward to the next eighty-four. Green-eyed media barons can look on and whine as much as they like, but the fact is that the BBC is the most fair, most trustworthy, and yes, the most dominant broadcaster in the world. Long may this continue.
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