Yet another politician fails to understand the problem of the BBC:
BBC ought to ‘actively look for some Conservatives to be part of their news-gathering team’, says shadow minister
The shadow culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, […] speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch today, said the BBC had acknowledged that those who wanted to work there had centre-left views and quoted its former political editor, Andrew Marr, who in 2007 described the corporation as having an “innate liberal bias”.
Any political bias from a publicly funded broadcaster is a bad thing, but inevitable. The real issue is not that the BBC should engage in discrimination to ensure ‘balanced reporting’ but that a broadcaster is funded by a coercive licensing system and there is still a State broadcaster (i.e. one mandated by a Royal charter).
In fact as part of a broadly market based nation any sense of balance or ‘reality’ is compromised by reliance on what is essentially tax revenue – and it shows in the broadcasting.
As the State broadcaster it is no wonder that people with a bias towards State provision of services work there. Its governing structure is like a mini House of Lords; Government suggested officials being appointed with no public accountability.
The funding of the BBC through coercion has a noticeable effect on its broadcasting which is, especially the news, broadly antagonistic to private enterprise and supportive of governmental intervention in peoples affairs (viz. any article in the last year on economics).
If the BBC financed itself through a market mechanism (subscription, pay per view, commercials, syndication, investment options, etc.) then there would be no need for it to be ‘balanced’ or to address MPs concerns that their party is not fairly represented – it would be freed from the need to make checks and balances to its reporting and it would be free to interrogate politicians to a greater extent.
Naturally the BBC points to the poor programming by ITV and obvious bias of SKY when you make these points and it says it would degenerate to their level. There is no reason to expect this to be true unless their journalists and programme makers are so woeful they cannot survive competitively.
A report commissioned by the corporation in June 2007 found that while there was no evidence of conscious bias, “individuals exercise on occasion a largely unconscious self-censorship out of a misguided attempt to be ‘correct’ in their thinking”.
The problem with self-censorship and attempts at ‘impartiality’ is that these attempts are based on the perception of the broadcaster/journalist (and their working environment) and so the process is flawed. It is far better for journalists to report fully as they see the situation and any bias to be apparent and ripe for criticism (as in print media). A self-censoring mind is not one that can take on board new information unless it fits with the prepared template it cannot evaluate new information correctly – it cannot learn and therefore it cannot enable learning. Hence a self-censoring reporter censors not just themselves but against their whole audience.
“I think the important thing with the BBC is that it belongs to all of us. We have these debates because it is very important that the BBC is representative. […]
The BBC does not ‘belong’ to all of us, the public cannot sell their ‘share’ or demand changes of its content, it is not ‘property’.
The BBC cannot be representative (of the public) because individuals cannot truly represent others, it should stop trying and it should raise money in a way that its bias can be accepted, i.e. privately and without coercion.