This week I attended an Ofcom briefing on their conclusions concerning the future of the media. It made my blood boil.
The other MPs attending did not seem short of views on the future of TV and the web, they were not lost for words and several seemed to be well informed. Yet here we were again, a group of legislators answerable to our constituents, having to listen to the lowest common denominator, contradictory and often incoherent jottings of a quango that had spent far too much of our money on trying to craft a consensus for the future. We seemed to be there to take dictation and to accept that these “experts” had come up with the perfect balance of subsidised television, regulated markets and support for the BBC monopoly.
What most angered me was the insistence that we needed to strengthen broadcasting for “the nations and regions of the UK”. By this Ofcom meant we need to slavishly follow the EU agenda to encourage separation in Wales and Scotland, and to balkanise England into a series of meaningless regions.
It is true that if you have subsidised broadcasting, and if you concentrate a lot of broadcasting power in the hands of one primary broadcaster, you will need the government to express a view on what bias that broadcaster should adopt towards the sensitive issues of identity and nationality. The government could say to the BBC it is the British Broadcasting Corporation, so it should concentrate on broadcasting to the nation of the UK as a whole, in ways which all parts of our nation find acceptable. As a supporter of the Union I would be happy with that.
If, on the other hand, the government wishes the BBC to encourage or foster separate national identities, it should do so by having English TV as well as Welsh and Scottish TV. If we have reached the point thanks to divisive devolution where Scotland wants her own news and her own TV programmes, then Englishmen will want English news and English TV programmes. Why do we have to be told what the Scottish weather is going to be if they have separate programmes? Why does it matter to the English whether Rangers or Celtic are ahead in their local league if they don’t want to join the English league and face stronger competition? In Labour’s devolved world those results should be on Scottish TV, not English.
What I cannot accept, as a Brit and as an Englishman, is the ridiculous and unsuccessful attempt to break my country up into unloved and ill defined regions. My constituency is in the South East, the Rest of the South East, the Thames Valley, the South, Berks Bucks and Beds, the Home Counties and sometimes in Wessex. So which is it? Why do so many quangos and public services come up with so many different versions of the artificial region they want us in? We are usually divorced from London by the administrative map makers, yet many of us go to London for work and pleasure on a regular basis. We can see London TV. We have no wish to have artificial regions forced on us by governments or the media.
If Ofcom is going to replace the government as the source of policy on how to run subsidised TV will they please grasp this simple point. English people are being forced into wanting their country to be represented in all these matters by the way the government and media are fostering devolved identities in Wales and Scotland. The asymmetry of treatment is grotesque and unfair. When I asked about this, there was of course no answer.
The current model of “shared sovereignty” in the EU/NU Lab British state is damaging the Union and annoying the English. The UK government resorts to increasingly frantic and crude Britishness language, the very opposite of what most of us understand by Britishness which should be understated and self deprecating, not strident and in your face. Meanwhile the EU is really winning, by working with the smaller nations within the Union to undermine the whole. England is fed up with the EU pursuing its vendetta against us, seeking to deny our existence and stifle our cultural identity. We do not belong to regions, as the people of the North East magnificently demonstrated when they rejected regional government by 4 to 1. The ruling Euro-Brit elite of course ignored them, and refused the rest of us the therapy of a vote to say the same.
I also enjoyed the contribution at the meeting from one participant who thought it was most unfair of web services to take advertising revenue away from ITV! It’s called free enterprise, and offering the public what they want. He should try it sometime. Ofcom seemed frightened by the power of the new technology, because it has the power to be the solvent of the monopolies and cosy arrangements that have sustained the current media elite and their views, which are so often different from the views of the rest of us.
THE BBC WILL ASSUME YOU HAVE A TV AND DEMAND YOU PAY A LICENCE FEE WHETHER YOU HAVE ONE OR NOT. THEY DO KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE.
YOU MUST PAY THE LICENCE FEE EVEN IF YOU DO NOT WATCH BBC PROGRAMMES.
THE WEB IS DANGEROUS AS IT CAN UNDERMINE CONVENTIONAL VIEWS VALUES AND ADVERTISING ON MAINTSTREAM MEDIA. IT IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR UNTRAINED PEOPLE.