It's always been in the folk summation of
Any Questions, that the BBC is sold out
and reflects the bosses' wishes. Now
people are starting to prove it.
We pay for a tv licence so that the
BBC can be the voice of freedom, but
no, it's the voice of the oligarchs, both
inside and outside of the government.
Checkit: treasure islands blog
Jun 04 2013
Is the BBC afraid of the City of London?
Posted by: Nick Shaxson in: Thoughts
I’ve chosen this headline because I wanted to follow on from an earlier blog I wrote entitled Is the BBC afraid of tax havens? That was a very good question then, and it remains a very good question now. Amid all the global noise now about tax havens, the BBC remains a timid follower of the story, at best, raising serious questions of the extent to which the BBC is fulfilling its mandate to be, in the words of its Director General, ‘unflinching in holding power to account.’
Today’s blog looks at research from Dr. Mike Berry, lecturer at the University of Cardiff. It focuses on one small but influential part of the BBC – its flagship Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. I think it’s fair to say that my colleagues and I have always been under the impression – hard to prove but still a strong impression — that the Today Programme is substantially ‘captured’ by the City of London, the UK’s Financial Services industry. (And for what ‘capture’ means here, see this.)
The article is called The Today programme and the banking crisis, and it meticulously researches six weeks’ of coverage by the Today Programme, during the crucial period of the British bank rescues in October 2008. The article’s abstract should surprise nobody who knows the programme:
“Results indicated that City sources dominated coverage, particularly during the two- week period around the British bank rescue plan. The consequence of this was that listeners were offered a prescribed range of debate on the UK government’s bank rescue plan and possible reforms to the financial sector. The research raises key questions regarding impartiality and balance in public service broadcasting.”
Berry’s paper provides some context, exploring other analyses that have been done of the media response to particular episodes: Forte’s hostile takeover of Granada; the FT’s coverage of the Asian financial crisis, the recent Greek crisis, and more. He cites earlier research into the run-up to Ireland’s country’s banking crisis, for example:
“They [journalists] viewed them [bankers and property developers] as friends and allies and essentially became advocates for them. Their approach was justified editorially because many developers and bankers limited access to such an extent that it became seen to be better to write soft stories about them than to lose access.”…