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Offline Sao Paulo

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How the BBC has become a bastion of smugness t
« on: February 14, 2019, 10:03:35 AM »
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.......................................that is threatening to cut off the lifeblood of democracy.

  • The Beeb has expanded into a state-backed media monster encroaching on areas that should be none of its business


The Beeb’s empire-building now threatens to cut off the lifeblood of our democracy — by undermining a free Press, nationally and locally

THE BBC loves to think of itself as a noble pillar of a free and democratic society.

Yet the Beeb’s empire-building now threatens to cut off the lifeblood of our democracy — by undermining a free Press, nationally and locally.

The Cairncross Review, a new Government-backed report into the future of UK journalism, deals with the growing danger posed by tech giants Google and Facebook.

Remarkably, these mega-platforms rip off and reproduce news stories from outlets such as The Sun without paying a penny for the privilege.

Then they make billions out of ads on “their” news pages.

Dame Frances Cairncross thinks Google and Facebook should be regulated to help counter “fake news” and “nudge people towards news of high quality”.

Yet her report also had to confront the role of the sainted BBC in helping to undermine the major source of “news of high quality” — national and local newspapers, in print and online.

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, is apparently far from committed to adopting all the Cairncross recommendations and he needs to get a grip on this urgently.

The BBC is powerful and persuasive but it should not frighten Cabinet ministers.

Dame Frances concludes that broadcasting regulator Ofcom should mount an inquiry into the market impact of BBC News on commercial news providers and local publishers.

She says the BBC should “think more carefully about how its news provision can act as a complement, rather than a substitute, for private news provision”.

Some of us might put it in less genteel terms. The BBC — fuelled by £4billion of public money — has expanded into a state-backed media monster encroaching on areas that should be none of its business, from trivial “clickbait” stories to lifestyle advice.

After all, the BBC Charter states that it should “provide impartial news and information to help people understand  the world around them. It should offer depth and analysis not widely available from other UK news providers”.

Somewhere, this has gone very wrong.

It churns out so much stuff online that it could be renamed the British Publishing Corporation.

In the process, the monster is devouring the market for everything from local newspapers to gossip websites.

Why does “our” national broadcaster now feel obliged to publish “news” stories such as the classic “Serial poopers: What makes people poop in public?” (The expert found by the BBC concludes that such poopers have “mental health issues”. No poop, Sherlock!)

The BBC is also hopelessly addicted to pumping out recipes. Type in “spaghetti bolognese” on Google and the first result that returns is from BBC Good Food — a commercial site that trades on the broadcaster’s brand.

Why is the BBC even in the already-crowded recipe market? Never heard the one about “too many cooks”?

By stretching its insensitive tentacles into local areas from its London and Salford HQs, the BBC has contributed to wrecking the local and regional Press, longstanding voices of real communities.

At least 136 local and regional titles have closed since 2012, as circulation halved from 63.4million weekly in 2007 to 31.4million in 2017.

Since 2005, the number of regional journalists has also been halved, to around 6,500.

An estimated 58 per cent of the country now has no daily or weekly title.

A robotic BBC web page is no substitute for local Press coverage of council meetings and court proceedings.

And yet the money pours in to fund this expansion way beyond its remit.

Last year the BBC spent £290million on BBC Online and “Red Button” services. The national and local Press are under siege from the tech giants and their BBC collaborators. But this is about more than newspaper self-interest.

The future of dirt-digging journalism and democratic debate is at stake.

Cairncross estimates that “legacy newsbrands” — aka national and local newspapers — are responsible for around 50 per cent of all original news journalism in the UK, more than broadcasters and online-only outlets put together. That seems an underestimate.

The role of the Press in reporting the news is not just a matter of historical “legacy”. As one ex-editor of a London local paper observes, “councillors and crooks must surely feel relaxed” without local hacks watching and reporting what they are up to.

Every big story of recent years was broken by newspapers, from the fire risk Vauxhall Zafira and how Age UK pushed expensive power deals to OAPs (The Sun) to Philip Green gagging reports of sexual and racial harassment (The Telegraph).

Even last year’s most popular BBC-based story — the snogging scandal on Strictly Come Dancing — was a Sun on Sunday exclusive, before the BBC did its usual parasitical trick of topping Google searches for articles about “the Strictly Curse”.

The newspaper tradition of long-form writing and forensic examination will continue to struggle as the online purveyors suck up adverts for cheap and cheerful clickbait.

The print medium remains unmatched for serious analysis.

Yet the BBC’s self-aggrandising aim is now to expand its global audience further, rather than meet the needs of the underserved as a public service broadcaster surely should.

Thus the social media chief of BBC News, Mark Frankel, boasts of the corporation having on Facebook “the largest news page and total fanbase of any news organisation in the world”.

The publicly funded BBC need not care that the tech giants don’t pay for stories, as for them Facebook is just a free publicity funnel.

That alliance makes it even harder for the rest of the media to take a stand against being royally ripped off.

Auntie is effectively in league with greed-driven tech giants.

What of the output of all these BBC platforms? They claim to be a beacon of liberal diversity.

The one thing the BBC can’t tolerate, however, is diversity of opinion.

It is a bastion of illiberal luvvie smugness, peddling its elitism as the centre ground, blasting out conformist propaganda in Brexit-bashing panel debates and Brexit-bashing comedy shows.

Lord Reith, the first BBC chief, wanted the then-monopoly corporation to “inform, educate and entertain” the public, from the point of view of the British Establishment.


Interesting when they talk about “fake news” but ignore what the BBC does everyday
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