If the BBC is not reformed it will be at the expense of our democracy

Over the past year since the election it has become increasingly apparent that our treasured national broadcaster is strongly opposed to informing the public of goings on that do not reflect well on the ruling party.

We are constantly reminded that Russia Today (RT) is the propaganda arm of the Russian government. While I, and no one else can reasonably claim that the BBC and RT are two sides of the same coin, it should be formally addressed that the BBC is deliberately avoiding reporting that reflects poorly on the ruling party.

For instance, cast your mind back to the snap election last year. While it was reported by many outlets that the Conservatives were being investigated by the police for allegedly using call a centre to directly contact voters in marginal seats, the BBC were silent. The Conservatives insisted that they had not done anything wrong and the call centre was hired as part of legal market research and direct marketing. However, the legality of a crime is not for the defendant to adjudicate. They can deny any wrong doing all they like, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Welsh police (serious economic crimes unit) are nonetheless investigating the allegations.

Without delving into the legality of this issue, as I, and I assume the readers are not of competent legal mind, it is still an important story that the public should have been informed of at the national level. There is an argument to be had that it is just an allegation and therefore not of importance until it has been investigated. However, I don’t recall any hesitation to report on manufactured outrage at Corbyn during the salacious ‘traingate‘ that was ultimately ratified as a Conservative/establishment smear campaign based on lazy opportunistic ‘journalism’.

Some will argue that the call centre investigation was reported on, but those people should be reminded that burying the lead in a local Welsh BBC site is not good enough. The election impacted all of us in the country and therefore should have aired on national TV at prime time, but apparently it is not as important as a man sitting on the floor of a train.

Most recently, the BBC have ignored a devastating report by the British Medical Journal that has gone as far to conclude that Tory austerity can be correlated to 120,000 avoidable deaths under their rule. These deaths are at the expense of their false economic model of self-imposed austerity to somehow promote growth? This is not a biased ideological claim, it has been substantiated time and time again – most convincingly by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

What austerity actually does, is demonise the most vulnerable in society and whip up racial tensions that only serve as scapegoats for the actual problems of everyday people. It is easy to blame an immigrant for your misfortune, but it is extremely difficult to mount an argument against the moneyed classes when your trusted national broadcaster refuses to effectively hold these people to account.

Even when the BBC appears to hold these people to account, as seen in the Paradise Papers documentary, its not good enough because the news section of the company refuses to tackle it with the same veracity, of say, a man sat on the floor of a train. Those familiar with The Peoples News know that we reported on the dubious tax affairs of the rich and famous well before the documentary aired. However, let me detail how the BBC has come to serve a specific purpose in this country.

As mentioned, The People’s News reported on the likes of Lord Ashcroft and Walmart well before the documentary aired. But, because ours is a humble operation, it is to be expected that it can’t really take hold on a national level, and the attention such reporting does get, ends up causing disjointed/isolated uproar within our growing, yet still very modest, social media circle.

Now this is the interesting part: once the BBC aired the Panorama documentary, it had the effect of unifying the country’s outrage to speak in one concerted fashion, which has the effect of creating a momentum that can be grappled with on a national scale. This is because the BBC, unlike The People’s News, has a direct line of contact with everyone in their homes. However, even when The People’s News wrote about Ashcroft, this was not ground-breaking news – it is an old story that never gets any traction because those in power and owners of news outlets are taking part in the exact same methods used to avoid tax.

With this critical point in mind, it doesn’t matter that the BBC aired the documentary because the newspapers and other outlets don’t keep the issue relevant by sustained reporting, leaving the story to fade into the 24 hour news cycle. Whereas, to use the ‘traingate’ example again, once this was reported on, the papers and other sources ran with it because it was politically expedient to do so as it smeared the leader of the opposition.

The BBC wasn’t set up to occupy these establishment biases, but it can no longer be ignored that it has become a propaganda arm for the ruling party. It is not overt propaganda, but omission of certain stories that don’t reflect well on the current government still falls under the umbrella of propagandist.

It seems odd that a government priding itself on capitalist/free market values insist that we continue to subsidise the BBC through our TV licenses while they deliberately misinform us. This is particularly troublesome when Tory policy has been correlated to the deaths of the lowest earners in society. Yes, the BBC does some excellent work, but they should remember that by omitting some of the news, they are losing the trust of the nation and worst of all, backing us into a corner and forcing us to pay for a service that abuses its viewership’s trust. This is especially unethical when you consider that their policies are suppressing wages and adding outgoing expenses that many of us simply cannot afford.

It is not my intention to encourage anyone to break the law, but while paying a TV license is mandatory, and not paying can result in significant legal trouble, if everyone unified and threatened to withdraw our funding if our grievances aren’t addressed – can they really impose any legal consequences? After all, we are paying customers – paying to be misinformed. We need reform, for the sake of our democracy.

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