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Showing posts with label media in a democracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label media in a democracy. Show all posts

Friday, 30 July 2010

Political coverage, the BBC and Channel 81

Political broadcasts are unlikely to ever achieve large viewing figures,especially those delivered on the dedicated channel, Channel 81, on the day-to-day routine business of the four Parliaments of the UK, anymore than large numbers of people will ever read Hansard or buy Parliamentary bills and legislation from the Stationery Office.

That in no way detracts from the vital significance of these broadcasts to our democracy, because those that do will transfer their analysis comment and opinions through the complex web of media available in our modern world - the internet, YouTube, online newspaper postings,Twitter, letters to the newspapers, and into debate and comment with their friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Democracies have never worked on the basis of large numbers of the people following the minutiae of government, but on the absolute right to have access to that process when they choose, their active participation in the vital electoral process of selecting those they wish to govern them, and their access to them in constituency surgeries, public meetings etc.

Until the advent of radio and television access to the chambers of debate, that total access has been a theoretical one, limited in practice by the capacity of the public galleries. Now it is potentially unlimited, but in practice the numbers availing themselves of it are determined by the nature of the issues and public and media interest in them at any given time.

At a time when the media are increasingly controlled by narrow proprietorial interest groups, the state broadcaster is a vital component of those essential democratic freedoms, and in the United Kingdom this means the BBC, which, with all its faults, discharges that responsibility admirably. The alternative is a surrender to the likes of Fox News and the worst of tabloid journalism. I don't want my knowledge of how our elected - and unelected - representatives are behaving to come through the columns of The Daily Mail and The Sun.

I won't go to the barricades for many things these days, but I will turn out to protect the BBC's political broadcasts, because I will recognise the slippery slope to totalitarianism and fascism in any attempt to eliminate them, with whatever spurious justification of cost and minority interest in them.

(The above is the text of an online posting of mine to The Guardian on 26th July 2010)