Friday, June 02, 2006

Into the belly of the beast: America beware

Apparently not content with broadcasting misinformation about America, the BBC has now decided to begin broadcasting to America.
The BBC's global news channel, BBC World, has launched in the US, aiming to
capture audiences hungry for international news.
Or, at least, audiences hungry for the BBC's own spin on international news.

BTW, BBC World promotes itself as a "commercially funded" arm of the BBC, but I wonder whether this is a wholly accurate characterization, for it also claims to "draw on the resources of more than 250 BBC News correspondents and 58 international BBC News bureaux across the globe." Surely most of those correspondents, along with the reports they produce, are paid for by the BBC or the BBC World Service, both of which are funded not commercially but by UK taxpayers. Which suggests that perhaps BBC World is "commercially funded", except of course when it isn't.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Scott , I have never posted before on your blog before but I have been reading it regularly . I have missed your long absence from posting. Hopefully that will change . Welcome back.

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly, the BBC has been broadcasting news to America for quite a long time. Recently, it's proved to be pretty popular amongst Americans looking for a fresh perspective on world news.

Secondly, BBC World *is* a commerically-funded channel. It pays for the central BBC News resources it uses. The operating costs for its news output are significantly less than for News 24 in the UK. I believe BBC Worldwide is a net contributor to BBC funds and the revenue goes back into domestic UK services.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naturally it's best to have many sources for news because "objectivity" is a myth. Neither CNN nor BBC nor ABC nor CBS nor NBC ad infinitim are objective. Nor is a "commercial funded" news organisation necessarily better than one which is state funded. You have to ask yourself who is under greater pressure to drop stories or push a POV -- a news organisation with state job protection and national legislation, or an organisation under pressure from sponsors who are invariably conservative members of the business community (with their own agenda) or, in the case of Fox News, even the Republican Party itself. I suggest that the BBC reporters probably have as much control over their stories as American journalists, not that this is anything to exactly cheer about.

I have watched BBC in the US and now in France and while I have preferred PBS (when I lived in the States) I found their reporting to be professional and detailed, whereas much commercial American reporting is simply the soundbyte in-between the barrage of ads.

The agenda of the BBC is the agenda of all major media: they broadcast to the middle and ignore communities of people on the left and right.

You know, Scott, I can understand that living in the UK didn't work out for you, but the tone of your blog doesn't seem very positive. The British I have met struck me as being at least as informed as people in the U.S., and if the BBC is doing such a horrible job you wouldn't expect this, would you? Also, insofar as CNN broadcasts around the world, the fact the the BBC is available in the US is normal and hardly a sign of a propaganda war or worse.

I have been an expat for about 2 years now, and while I don't intend to return, I may someday. If I do, I hope I won't be an ungrateful American, trashing the French for real or imagined slights, and trying to reassert my American "patriotism" by running down a foreign people who generously offered me a place to live and work.

1:35 AM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

Anonymous(the latest),

You are confused on many counts, so allow me to set you straight.

First, and most importantly, it is profoundly incorrect to say that living in the UK "did not work" for me. The fact that I stayed there for over 7 years ought to suggest to you that things actually worked just fine, but if not, I'll say it plainly: My time in the UK was both highly rewarding and enjoyable, and the UK is one of the few places in the world outside the US where I could happily spend the rest of my days. There is a great deal more to the UK than the BBC.

Which leads me to another of your confusions. Your final sentence implies that you consider me to be "trashing" and "running down" the British. The only thing that could have led to you to such a conclusion after reading my site is a belief that the British media and the British people are one and the same. That is a foolish belief that you should dispell yourself of quickly.

Lastly, you have hauled out the old canard about commercial news organizations being "pressured" by the "conservative" business community to shape the news. Wholly apart from the fact that the business community is very far from universally conservative politically (have you never heard of Warren Buffet, George Soros, or former head of Goldman Sachs Robert Rubin?!?) I defy you to provide even one example of a news organization pushing a political point of view (left of right) as the result pressure from an advertiser. It just doesn't happen. I realize that the myth of commerical "pressure" on a news organization is the raison d'etre of the BBC, but it is a myth nonetheless.

Finally, however "professional and detailed" you believe the BBC to be, you have not in fact countered the primary contention of this website, backed by many specific examples, and that is that the UK media (led by the BBC) routinely distorts, misinforms, and otherwise just gets things wrong in its coverage of America and American politics.

Scott

10:10 AM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

Obviously that should say "left or right".

SC

10:12 AM  
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