2 PM Thursday 30 November 2012 Nunhead Heights
Today Lord Leveson has recommended the British government regulate the press. I didn’t read that far into his proposals but that seems to be the gist of it.
A regulated press is not free, no matter the good intentions of the regulator. It is like saying a tethered horse is free. No matter how long the rope, the horse knows who his boss is.
The problem with Rupert Murdoch and the press is the British public broadcasters, the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Britain is amazingly centralized and concentrated. Follow me, please.
Five supermarket chains have 75% of the grocery business. London’s residential property is worth the same as the next 40 biggest cities and towns in Britain combined. I read that in The Guardian 31st March 2012. It is as if New York were worth as much as LA, Boston, Indianapolis, Atlanta, San Fran, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Austin, Houston, Denver, and thirty other cities combined. Minneapolis. Chicago. Detroit. New Orleans, Memphis. You name it. Isn’t that incredible? Richmond. Philadelphia. Buffalo, Portland, San Diego.
The government-owned broadcaster controls maybe 50% of the airwaves. They own two of the five big TV channels and the biggest radio stations and local ones in every town. And what about digital channels, websites and magazines?
The BBC is impartial, unbiased, and not supposed to serve the needs of any one group. The people want it to be that way.
If the BBC comes out against X group, then the Xs are going to be unhappy. If they come out against Y group then the Ys will be unhappy. That is why the BBC doesn’t come out against very much of anything.
‘When you try to please everyone, no one likes it.’ I don’t know who said that first but it is true.
But a BBC that tries to please everyone makes the BBC into an impotent and neutered animal. And makes it easy for a Rupert Murdoch to march in.
In order for Murdoch to have controlled the Government he needed to operate only a third or half of the non-BBC media. A cable network: Sky. A newspaper for the educated: The Times. Newspapers for the masses: The News of the World, and The Sun. Boom.
A media baron couldn’t control America that way. It is more decentralized. Maybe a few barons, but definitely one man couldn’t.
Rupert Murdoch pounding away at the Monarchy or Europe was more than a match for a wishy-washy, soft, mealy BBC.
If Britain wants to avoid another Rupert Murdoch it’ll need to break up the BBC and bring more competition to the airwaves. Or the old media needs to die off and be replaced by a hundred thousand independently own websites.
Yes, I blame the BBC. [Sorry, I know you love your BBC.]
Britain, like America, loves commissions.
The British version of the fact-finding committee seems to be just one guy. In the the case of the problems with phone hacking – that is, the problem with Rupert Murdoch and his control of the British Government – they have Lord Leveson. I am sure he had help – lawyers and assistants – but it wasn’t like the Warren Commission which had a panel of famous people who could share the blame for a dodgy report about President Kennedy’s killing.
How come the British put so much faith in one person to provide the explanation and solution to a problem? I don’t know but it isn’t the way things are done in America.
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