One cheer for Mr Miliband


               I am interested in Mr Miliband’s radical idea that we might need tighter rules on media ownership and market shares. It will be interesting to see how he defines unacceptable levels of control, as it appears  that the BBC has the largest share of the TV and radio market, and also has a very powerful position in web provision and related publishing. Rules that he thinks of in connection with News International could not be hyrbid or company specific, and would have to be fair about any concentration of media power. Thoughts on what constitutes too much media power and if it should be regulated better would be welcome.

              I will not be commenting on  the hacking and bribery issues for two reasons. One, because the interesting questions relate to individuals who deserve a fair trial if allegations are followed by evidence. Their   conduct is the subject of a police investigation which should not be prejudiced. Two, because we are getting saturation coverage of it in much of the  media, in a way which is drowning out many stories and issues which will have more impact on everyone else’s life. Please do not send in comments naming individuals that could be the subject of court cases.

           The truth is both main political parties were keen to meet and socialise with News International senior personnel and journalists  before this drama broke. Both main parties hired people from the News International stable as press advisers. Both parties wanted the endorsement of News International papers at election times. Doubtless both main parties will want friendly coverage from papers in the future, once all these current allegations have been refuted or have resulted in trials and punishments.


  1. lifelogic
    July 18, 2011

    The BBC will doubtless be exempt from any market share controls. It is, we are constantly told – mainly by the BBC – highly respected, belongs to the viewers and is “accountable”.

    In what way it is “accountable” they do not say. Only accountable to MP’s, Government or the EU as I see it and that is exactly the main problem with it.

    1. rose
      July 18, 2011

      And it is trusted by the public – or so it says. It is also unelected, and often hereditary. Nothing wrong with that, except that it always says it is wrong.

      1. lifelogic
        July 18, 2011

        It also has lots of closely connected people who run “independent” companies to supply material to the BBC. One wonders on the controls in terms of genuine value for the licence fee (tax) payers in these arrangements.

        It also runs endless back door adverts (I am always rather surprised that they have not yet launched a BBC soap powder so they can run adverts for that too).

      2. APL
        July 18, 2011

        rose: “often hereditary.”

        Ha! Isn’t it odd how those firebrands of the left always condemn the hereditary principle where it relates to, for example the Lords, but when it is their own family succession into a nice plush job at the BBC then suddenly it’s fine and dandy.

        1. rose
          July 18, 2011

          And even the ones who aren’t hereditary are in for life.

    2. grahams
      July 18, 2011

      Accepting that I will be shot down, there is a difference. The BBC does not have a political line laid down from the top. So politicians do not cosy up to the BBC because there is no one person, or 5 people, to cosy up to. The BBC is “institutionally biased” in the same way that a judge decided the Met was “institutionally racist” because of the prevailing culture at the grass roots.

      If the BBC recruits its intake mainly through The Guardian, it is obviously going to recruit mainly Guardian readers. That mindset will become its common culture.

      The BBC is accountable to the BBC Trust. But the BBC Trust has not exercised its accountability functions in the area of impartiality. It should now do so, in the same way that the Met responded to the judge’s criticism. It can start by instilling impartiality, make key people directly responsible for enforcing impartiality and ensuring that its recruitment policy does not create bias.

      Bias is the “bathwater”. We should not throw out the baby (the orchestras, Test Match Special, nature programmes, free internet news and so much else) but carefully drain out the bathwater.

      1. lifelogic
        July 18, 2011

        Certainly it is biased Guardian “think” through and through. It constantly amazes me that they can find so many with such absurd big state, pro EU, green, lefty views. Particularly when these views are so clearly in opposition to logic and what actually works best for all.

        How could one drain the bathwater as you say. Would anyone with sensible view want to work for the BBC in this atmosphere? I do not think reform is really possible – certainly not with Lord Patten and Cameron in place. Would they want a BBC pointing out what big state, pro EU, socialists they really both are.

      2. APL
        July 18, 2011

        grahams: “The BBC does not have a political line laid down from the top.”

        Actually it does, it has a duty of impartiality. It fails in that duty dismally, yet I am compelled to pay for a prevelidged broadcaster that has a political agenda.

        If Murdoch’s market segment was an abuse, then the BBC’s privileged position is so too.

        1. sjb
          July 18, 2011

          It seems to me the BBC is as much a part of the establishment as the Church of England and the Royal Family.

          One of its purposes appears to be to soften up public opinion for change. For example, there have been a number of sympathetic programmes recently about volunary euthanasia. If the permanent government (civil service) can get that on the statute book for ‘hard cases’ then over time the categories can be widened so that in 20 years time there will be killing on an industrial scale (remember abortions are now running about 200,000 per annum – even David Steel thinks that is too high). The public expenditure savings would be considerable. Brave new world, eh?

          1. rose
            July 19, 2011

            But the BBC doesn’t represent the nation. That is the problem. And there is nothing the nation can do about it, because its real representatives, elected and unelected, hereditary and appointed, are too frightened of it to take it on. Unlike the Straw Man some of them are burning today.

          2. APL
            July 19, 2011

            ” .. Church of England and the Royal Family. ”

            Sad isn’t it, both of those seem to have sold out too.

            The first embraces any opportunity to denigrate the tradition of the Church, and the chief druid does little more than offer socialist platitudes about how things should be arranged in this world, completely forgetting his actual brief which is the next world.

            Then Charles Windsor seems to have completely sold out to the Green mania, not above raking in very substantial agricultural subsidies from the European Union for his various estates.

            What was the old saying about fish?

            Still I was always told, it’s the office not the office holder that commands respect.

        2. Jeremy Poynton
          July 19, 2011

          We don’t pay the license fee. We got rid of the TV rather than fund the Propaganda Wing of New Labour. Nor do we miss it – there’s always the iPlayer to catch up on the odd programme worth viewing, but we hardly ever do that, truth be known.

    3. Pete Chown
      July 18, 2011

      If the BBC really did belong to the viewers, we would be able to download any of its output at any time, because it would belong to us anyway. The reality is that iPlayer only offers programmes which were broadcast over the previous week or so. This shows the real relationship between the viewers and the BBC, I think.

      The BBC doesn’t seem to produce much that I want to see these days, so next year I probably won’t bother with a TV licence. As a result, I will have to find a way of disabling my aerial, or whatever I have to do in order to comply with the law. I will have the TV licence snoopers round again. I won’t be able to watch commercial channels, even though they have nothing to do with the BBC.

      If we’re going to look at the influence of different media groups, yes, let’s look at the BBC. When the BBC started, the technology for implementing subscription TV didn’t exist. Now it does, so let’s use it. Then, people who want to watch the BBC can subscribe to it, while other people are not forced to buy a service they don’t want.

      Once that is working, what about privatisation? The BBC, for all its faults, is a formidable media group. Privatised, it could form the core of a new British film industry; one that produces films people want to watch rather than relying on government hand-outs.

      1. uanime5
        July 18, 2011

        Given how badly privatisation of every industry has been in this country I’d prefer that the BBC not be privatised. It would be a true travesty if the BBC went from being a channel representing the nation to being a channel representing its shareholders.

        1. rose
          July 19, 2011

          Sorry sjb and uanim5, I meant to post this here:

          But the BBC doesn’t represent the nation. And it isn’t just a channel. It is a whole network and culture. That is the problem. And there is nothing the nation can do about it, because its real representatives, elected and unelected, hereditary and appointed, are too frightened to take it on. Unlike the Straw Man some of them are burning today.

  2. Mick Anderson
    July 18, 2011

    Other articles floating about on the internet suggest that a good percentage of Fleet Street scoops are obtained by dubious means. Perhaps the problem is too big to prosecute properly.

    It reminds me of the issues with MPs expenses – if I behaved in such a dishonest way, I would expect to end up in prison. Instead, there are a few sacrificial lambs, with everybody else being let off. The leaders of the MPs didn’t resign over the criminal acts of their staff, and I don’t doubt that they knew all about the principle, if not the detail.

    I appreciate that this is an awful thing to have happened, but the coverage in the non-Murdoch press seems to be rather vitriolic. Plenty of hacks not employed by NI companies will have used equally immoral methods, and the hypocrisy around this story is becoming distasteful.

  3. Mike Stallard
    July 18, 2011

    Socialists when a difficulty occurs, reach for more State power, or as they see it, a common sense approach to regulation.
    This is actually a moral collapse.
    Police should NEVER accept bribes – sorry – presents from dodgy people. Ever. Neither should anyone else. It puts you in their thrall.
    Senior politicians should keep well clear of the press in their social lives. And they should not get into partying with them either or accept large dinners or anything else. It puts both sides in the other’s thrall.
    Finally, parliament is being debased. Whenever Mr Cameron makes a point he is always standing behind a lectern. He should be standing in parliament. He should discuss stuff with the cabinet. Not with Rupe and his friends. (I do hope that isn’t breaking the law saying that.)

    1. Duyfken
      July 18, 2011

      Just so, Mike, nicely put.

    2. rose
      July 18, 2011

      I don’t agree that politicians shouldn’t try to get their message across to the public through the media. How else are they to do it? People don’t bother much with public meetings now, and they don’t often read pamphlets.

      Only by inviting media individuals to number Ten, and by accepting invitations in return, yes, even to sup with the BBC Devil, will PMs be able to explain themselves properly. Mrs T invited every sort of influential person to number Ten – at Denis’s expense, not ours. These included showbiz types, sportspeople, hacks, policiticians, business people, civil servants, intellectuals, writers, and many others. And to Chequers too. Like that famous Woman’s Own interviewer, they got an insight into what she was truly about. As an American memorably said: “What you see is what you get, and it talks right back at you!” He was used to scripted presidents the press never get near.

      But in dealing with the Press the PM needs a press secretary. He won’t do better than a poacher turned gamekeeper. If that is all the Opposition have on him, then we shouldn’t be too worried.

      1. Kenneth
        July 18, 2011

        The BBC should go out and cover public meetings and not chair them in their own studios.

        1. rose
          July 19, 2011

          But would the electorate get off their sofas now? The other problem is that when they do, they want to drive everywhere and park just outside. The public meetings would not one hopes be held at motorway junctions, but in the centres of our villages, towns, and cities.

          1. Kenneth
            July 19, 2011

            Fair points. But we need to get away from the BBC chairing deciding who attends broadcast meetings. The BBC should be reporting on politics and not driving it.

            A few years ago the ‘Today’ programme had the strap line “setting the agenda”. As a democrat (small ‘d’) I found that offensive and I think that is what we need to get away from.

  4. Sue
    July 18, 2011

    I’ve turned the news off. I’m sick to death of Hackgate. There are much more important things happening, especially in Europe and the imminent collapse of the Euro.

    This continuing coverage shows the media still have not learnt a thing.

    News reporting is a disgrace.

    1. Stuart Fairney
      July 18, 2011

      Likewise, when I woke yesterday I turned SKY news on yesterday, sat down to watch (hoping to escape Hackgate) and they were covering the issue of …. Kate’s weight.

      I promptly turned off again.

    2. celticmorning
      July 18, 2011

      News reporting is a disgrace. Says it all really

    3. APL
      July 18, 2011

      Sue: “There are much more important things happening,”

      Well I watched C4 news this evening, I was amused to see how C4 & Jon Snow is framing the economic situation.

      Debt crisis in Europe – well, we’re going to work it out.

      US congress refusing to raise the US debt ceiling – Putting the world economy at risk!

      Bad bad US, for not bailing out the feckless Europeans.

      In short the usual US hate-fest that the UK liberal ‘intelligentsia’ have been engaging in for the last thirty years.

  5. Robert K
    July 18, 2011

    Your final paragraph is the nub of the issue for me. This unseemly story reveals the unhealthy stitchup between the main political parties and the media and some uncomfortable details of the relationship between the media and the police. What makes is worse is sanctimonious political leaders telling us that what is needed is more regulation of the press. What is needed is a press that is less in cahoots with the political establishment, not the other way round. Thank goodness for the internet.

  6. L Edwards
    July 18, 2011

    Any new rules should certainly apply to the BBC. Nobody can be relied upon to self-police, and the larger the organisation, the more true that is.

    The BBC should be broken up, with its news and current affairs branches separated entirely from drama, documentaries and general entertainment. There is no earthly reason why the two should remain together since the quality of one is not dependent on the quality of the other. The web presence should be split along similar lines. The BBC News could then be subjected to exactly the same regulation as regards size as any other news organisation.

    1. rose
      July 18, 2011

      Where would you put Womans Hour, You and Yours, the comedy and arts programmes, the silly quizes, and all the other left wing programmes? The BBC culture, of which Grahams speaks, seeps into most of its non-news programmes too. Have you ever seen a huge Telegraph supplement advertising media jobs to rival the one the Guardian has?

      1. Jeremy Poynton
        July 19, 2011

        There are horrors abroad at the Beeb. For example, if you are a left wing comedian (yeah, I know, contradiction in terms), that will secure you a BBC sinecure meaning you can appear on their quiz shows until the end of time. And if you are Stephen Fry, you get to occupy something in the region of 50% of the airwaves. On the quiz shows, all you have to do is say something mildly inflammatory about Thatcher, and the panel and audience are rolling in the aisles.

      2. APL
        July 19, 2011

        Rose: “Where would you put Womans Hour, You and Yours, the comedy and arts programmes, the silly quizes, and all the other left wing programmes?”

        On the BBC subscription channel.

  7. norman
    July 18, 2011

    This is what bothers me about the BBC. It’s not that it’s biased or not biased (I don’t care one way or the other and I hope I can sort the wheat from the chaff and I put trust in others to be able to do so), it’s not that I’m forced to pay for something I don’t use (the government wastes thousands of my taxes every year on useless rubbish, a hundred odd won’t make or break things) but it’s that they completely and utterly dominate the one media field that I take an interest in – spoken word radio.

    You’d have to be absolutely bonkers to try and set up in competition with the BBC, they dominate on a local level with so many regional varieties it’s mind boggling, and on a national level they are so well funded compared to what a competitor could hope to recoup with advertising that it would be a non-starter. Even if you were successful, relatively, it’s not like you could enhance your business at the cost of your competitor as their funding is guaranteed whereas one recession and you’d be out the door.

    As for the hacking stuff – thank goodness there is going to be at least one oasis in the internet where I don’t have to read any more about it.

    About as exciting as the PR referendum and only slightly less interesting to me.

    1. uanime5
      July 18, 2011

      I suspect the BBC dominates spoken work radio because it’s so unprofitable that no one would dare enter the market. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to advertise between poems or in the intervals of plays.

      Though you may be able to get non-BBC spoken work radio through the Internet if you can find a suitable foreign radio station.

      1. norman
        July 19, 2011

        Look at the USA, as one example. Although I’m sure every country in the world has spoken word radio. By spoken word I mean non-music, be it political debate, plays, movie reviews, drama, documentary, etc.

        And, yes, I do listen to foreign spoken word radio but that’s rather difficult to do in the car unless I download it to my phone, which is what I do.

        But you’re right, no one would dare enter the market in the UK so we do agree on that.

        Also, why do you think no one would want to advertise during poetry (can’t remember the last time I heard that on the BBC but let’s leave that to one side) or plays? Is it that no one listens to them or that the people who do listen to them don’t spend money?

      2. rose
        July 19, 2011

        We have to put up with it on Classic FM. I wish the BBC wasn’t driving us to have it on the home service too. As it is, they have plenty of pseudo advertising, of themselves, between programmes. Far too much, and it usually kills the interest in what they are plugging.

  8. oldtimer
    July 18, 2011

    I agree that rules on plurality should include the BBC. The way things are trending, they will entrench the BBC`s dominant position. No doubt that would suit the BBC. It is also notable that your point about relationships between News International and politicians also applies to the BBC and politicians. There is two way traffic between both organisations and the worlld of politics. No doubt there is cosy, privileged access available to the former BBC executives who are now MPs. Does the House of Commons require MPs to declare past interests, employments and associations as well as their current ones? If not, do you think it would be a good idea for them to do so?

    The public enquiry should be a significant event. I do hope that its terms of reference do not inhibit Lord Justice Leveson from conducting the wide ranging investigation that the situation demands.

  9. Acorn
    July 18, 2011

    These must be worrying times for members of the “metropolitan elite”. They will all have become members of that club by nefarious activities, including knowing where various bodies are buried and who buried them. Who will snitch on whom next? It does highlight how little influence democracy has on these self perpetuating elite Quangos. Also, it shows that government laws that delegate everything to all powerful Quangos, eventually become increasingly ignored. The Quangos decide which laws will be enforced and on whom in the non-elite. Unfortunately for the current elite, a “Black Swan” has turned up.

  10. javelin
    July 18, 2011

    I made a similar point on Dale and Co yesterday. If News International is to be broken up – then this creates an imbalance in the UK media – so that the BBC is now totally dominant. Those calling for the break up of News International must recognise the BBC news must now be broken up too.

    The health of the UK political system and democracy must be put above party lines.

  11. John Bracewell
    July 18, 2011

    People who choose to use an inherently insecure device, without taking maximum security precautions, for salacious tittle-tattle or worse government secrets do not deserve sympathy. The people who do deserve sympathy are the family of the missing girl whose text messages were deleted giving the impression of the phone being used and the families of Armed forces personnel. The other aspect that is being and needs investigation is the possible bribery of the Police. The guilt by association, without evidence that the people involved knew what was going on at the time, is sheer political opportunism. The media and Press have shown they are incapable of regulating themselves and despite their usual protestations to the contrary, it is time that some form of independent regulator was set up. This would mirror the setting up of IPSA in the case of the MPs’ expenses issue. A totally free press/media is something we now obviously cannot afford.
    All these things should be part of the Judge led Inquiries and police investigations (which for presentational reasons would have been better if conducted by non-Metropolitan police). These Inquiries have been set up and should be allowed to get on with the job, more obsession about this story from Press and media is not required. Apart from the issues above, it is a relatively unimportant story when compared to the economy, education, welfare reform, defence and immigration. Unfortunately it is a mix of issues that the Press/media love to report especially with the rabid left leaning Guardian and BBC leading the way in their opportunistic Murdoch empire bashing.

  12. Javelin
    July 18, 2011

    Doing a little more reading into this scandle around the poltical edges and I think there is more to the wider context at the moment. A lot of people have commented that there are more important things going on – and that got me curious. I’m sure all the parties agree there are more important things going on in Europe. So what is really happening ?!

    I think a big clue was seen in PMQs this week when Ed Balls and George Osborne were seen exchanging papers like “BBFs” (I think that means best friends) by a blogegr on Iain Dale’s blog. So what were these “mortal enemies” doing? I think, most probably, that there is a truce between Ed and George on the economics whilst Europe unfolds – partially in the interest of national survival. The huge UK Government debts was run up by Ed Balls, so he really isnt in a position to criticise the (non) cuts. George doesn’t need to him on his back.

    I think the “deal” between Ed and George is that George is basically doing what Ed would have done. As I have said before the Tories are sailing very close to the New Labour wind and shutting out the Labour Party on economically policy – partly for political reasons but more because they have no choice. I think the two of them have agreed (backed by civil servants) there is only one course out of this storm. So they agreed a truce until either the whole of Europe goes pear shaped or an artitary date when hostilities will resume again. And hostilities will resume when the UK economy has recovered enough for Ed to be able to spend more tax payers money and George not to be able to justify tax cuts. If Europe does go pear shaped then hostilities will resume on Europe and not the economy.

    I think this explanation represents the structure of the actual situation – and Im going to use it as a lense to interpret Government statements on News of the World and the surrounding criminal investigations – which I completely agree with John will play themselves out for themselves – but also because they are a useful distraction for the Government and opposition getting on with the business of helping the UK to recover from 10+ years of Labour mis-management .

  13. Martyn
    July 18, 2011

    Am I alone in thinking that the reasons for MP’s making such a public song and dance about this rotten affair is that it is about the only thing that they retain any degree of self-governance/authority with being able to make and implement a decision, all other self-governance authority having been handed over lock, stock and barrel to the EU dictatorship?
    In saying that I do not for one second in any way condone the Murdoch empire activities that Parliament and the police are seeking to bring to book, but if there ever was a case for saying “physician heal thyself” it must true in this case!

    1. BobE
      July 18, 2011

      Martyn I think your correct

  14. English Pensioner
    July 18, 2011

    I fully agree. The BBC seems totally unaccountable, so much so that I prefer to watch Sky News even if it is Murdoch controlled. At least there is no doubt as to its position.
    But the BBC, far from being impartial, has a left wing, green, pro EU agenda. More to the point, compared to the rest of the media, it effectively has an unlimited budget with no shareholders who want dividends, and is free at the point of use, thus enabling it to dominate the entire media industry.
    A good start would be to split off the BBC News organisation, as was proposed with BSkyB and make it operate with a budget comparable to Sky News, ITV News, etc.

  15. rose
    July 18, 2011

    The main difference between the powers and influence of the BBC Emperor on the one hand, and the warring Press and Broadcasting Barons on the other, seems to me to be this: the former is permanently in power, enshrined by statute, unelected, and paid for by everyone on pain of imprisonment; while the latter must pay their own way and raise their own armies. Not only are they not united with each other, against the Empire, but some of them are closely allied to it. Besides fighting each other, the barons must always follow their supporters, trying to guage who will be King or Queen next, and then accommodate themselves to the new power. But the Emperor is too big and grand to care who is King or Queen – though he clearly has his favourite puppets. So this is an unfair contest the BBC Emperor is always going to win.

    Historically, Empires have only fallen when they became too big and bureacratic to sustain efficiently. They collapse from within. So how much bigger and more powerful must the BBC Empire grow before it brings itself down? Parliament won’t dare do it. Politicians, even the hereditary unelected ones and the Lords Spiritual, are overawed. In her 60 years of speeches on the BBC our actual Queen herself has never hinted that anything is amiss, just as she never refers to that newer Empire which has usurped her 1,500 year old sovereignty. I don’t even recall the Duke making a bald reference to the BBC, though he may have done, considering the vendetta they have pursued against him until his 90th birthday diverted them. As for the Queen’s gentleman PM – my fantasy is that he will eventually lead us in an uprising against the BBC Empire, and its allied Empire across the water. I muse too on how Google, the Russians, the Qataris, and the Chinese would capitalise on that.

    1. rose
      July 18, 2011

      Her Majesty did once speak out against the threatened breakup of the Union, saying firmly that she could not forget the vows she made. But even though her own ministers now refer to us as “citizens of the EU”, or “British citizens”, or just “citizens”, she has never mentioned the new arrangements for governing her former subjects.

      To be a subject of a monarch is always better than to be a citizen, whether of a quasi Empire or a real republic. Compare the lot of the peoples in the Near East: the subjects are freer and more prosperous than the citizens. Likewise in Europe: the monarchies preside over happier and freer peoples than the republics, with the possible exception of Switzerland. In Russia, the subjects of the Tsar were better off than under Lenien and Stalin. And in Iran they were better off with the Shah than as citizens in the new theocratic republic.

      A monarch today is the best defence against tyranny. But we haven’t defended ours, or taught our children about its importance. We have left it further exposed too, by abolishing the constitutional role of the hereditary peerage and threatening the Establishment of the Church. Next we will be having elected judges and policemen. So why have an hereditary Crown, with no-one to appoint?

  16. John Bucknall
    July 18, 2011

    I heartily agree with all your points. Especially about the market share and the role of the BBC on radio, on TV and their staggering presence on line.

    It is intriguing that the British BROADCASTING Corporation has insisted that they must be omnipresent in a medium which operates in exactly the opposite way to broadcasting – i.e. narrow-casting. How do they justify this extension of their remit?

    I also find it very distasteful when one BBC journalist interviews another to discuss a major public issue – without involving any of the parties involved. Is this balanced reporting by any definition?

    What level of trust does the BBC now enjoy with the British public? None in my household.

    1. rose
      July 18, 2011

      Nor mine – and it spans the generations.

  17. Jane
    July 18, 2011

    I no longer watch the news. I am sick to death of hackgate and speculation of who knew what and when. I am sick of Labour politicians who are trying to make us believe that they are the innocent party. I understand that Harriet Harman stated that the Tory Party are to blame for it all. I am fed up with individuals trying to politicise the issue at a time when there is a criminal investigation and a public enquiry due to commence. I am sick of grandstanding by some members of the Home Affairs Select Committee and some MPs. I am amused at the antics of some who are out for the press who have slighted them in the past by disclosing personal relationships. Sadly, I am perturbed at the character assassination of those who have been interviewed by the police and who have not been convicted in a Court of Law.

    It is wrong that the media and politicians are too close. Yet we have known about this for years and indeed accepted it. The failure of politicians over the years to deal with it is the nub of the problem. Tony Blair gave a speech towards the end of his premiership – much too late. Gordon Brown tried to distance himself last week from the press – silly when we all know the closeness of his relationships with many journalists and Editors. It is quite wrong of politicians whatever their political persuasion to try and make out one political party is more culpable than the other. They insult the electorate.

    The police need the media in dealing with crime. It is through the media that many major incidents have been successfully prosecuted. It is unreasonable to expect in any large organisation that there will not be criminal elements. This applies to journalism, police officers and indeed MPs. We have to look to the Public Enquiry to review these practices and to offer suggestions on how they can be improved, open and subject to public review.

    In the meantime can MPs go on their holidays and journalists focus on the major issues we face. Hurt feelings from hacking no matter how despicable and political posturing are becoming a bore.

  18. Mark M
    July 18, 2011

    I read a nice piece the other day that raised the point about the BBC as well. Auntie has a much bigger share of news coverage than News International, and it also has a monopoly in that noone can legally decline to pay for it. If any organisation is a danger to press freedom, it is not the Murdoch empire – its the beeb.

    1. Robert Eve
      July 18, 2011

      Spot on!!

    2. uanime5
      July 18, 2011

      How does the BBC have a much larger share of news coverage than News International when they both only have one 24 hour channel and the BBC doesn’t own any major newspapers?

      1. Kenneth
        July 18, 2011

        Newspapers and broadcasting are apples and pears, but if you add in news on all broadcast channels (Radio 5, local etc) plus internet (heavily promoted on the BBC) I would say the BBC’s news reach far outweighs News International.

        The fact that too many people think that the government has been cutting spending when it has in fact increased may be a clue to the BBC’s power

        1. rose
          July 19, 2011

          “I would say the BBC’s news reach far outweighs News International.” It must do because many of us never see a Murdoch paper or watch his TV but there is no getting away from the BBC if you want good programmes. That is what is so damnable about them. They run “loss leaders” and then brainwash the listeners with their culture.

      2. norman
        July 19, 2011

        Radio and internet. Doesn’t the Today programme get something like 9 million listeners (advertisers would be falling over themselves to buy time on it if they could)? Rather more than the combined sales of The Sun and The Times I’d imagine.

        I can’t recall the figures exactly but I’m sure the BBC has something like a 35-40% share in the UK.

        Google is your friend if you really want the exact figures.

  19. forthurst
    July 18, 2011

    Murdoch had been tolerated because he represented an opportunity for the main political parties (to the exclusion of anyone else) to obtain an unfair promotional advantage over their rival. (sentence left out – Mr Murdoch was “tolerated” because he acquired and ran companies with private money according to the law of the land -ed) Is the BBC is tolerated because it promotes an agenda which is endorsed by the leaderships of our main parties?

    It is naive to presume that plurality will inevitably yield truth. There is too much at stake for those with deep pockets and ambitions and loyalties alien to the natural instincts of the people. Of course, the BBC has the deepest pockets of all and it is without doubt that their agenda is driven by those whose ambitions and loyalties are alien to the people. In the case of media ownership it is easier to determine the provenance of the agenda being promoted, but what of the BBC? (sentence left out-ed) Who draws up the BBC’s agenda? Isn’t it time we knew?

    George Orwell wrote, “who controls the past, controls the future; who controls the present controls the past”. The news media control our past, but who controls them? This a vital question when, now with the advent of the web, it has become apparent to many, that the vesion of events recorded by the MSM is grossly disparate from truth and that it is this false version of history which is being used to drive events: on the RT website, there is a sequence of articles, “911 reasons why 9/11 was (probably) an inside job”: where is the equivalent in the Western MSM? Why was the DM almost alone to document Labour’s treasonous conspiracy to open our borders to three million from the third world? Not important enough? We are losing our country; we need to know who is doing it to us.

    Reply: THere are often conspiracy theories about big events, but a mainstream media outlet needs evidence and a serious body of opinion to justify running serious allegations which has not been presented in this case-ed)

    1. forthurst
      July 20, 2011

      Carl Cameron, at the time of 9/11, Chief Political Correspondent, Fox News, produced a documentary ……. The documentary was pulled from the Fox News site (it still lives on, however) as a result of pressure from the ADL and that was the last attempt by the MSM to get to the truth. The official version of events is preposterous and there is plently of evidence in terms of contemporary video as well as forensic evidence to entirely disprove it. You are quite entitled to remain silent but you cannot claim with any credibility that the MSM’s silence is as a result of their being nothing to examine.

      Reply: I have never seen any evidence to suppose someone could kill so many people for the reasons you are implying. I am not “remaining silent”. I just do not happen to believe that all tragic events in western democracies have been the result of sinister internal plots.

  20. Stewart Knight
    July 18, 2011

    It seems very obvious to anyone with a smidgen of brain activity that Milliband and Labour, and their paymasters in the unions, have opened a can of worms without thinking about the consequences…particularly for themselves.

    There is Milliband and that (words left out-ed) Watson, and their friends in the BBC, pontificating and moralising over hacking, condemning Cameron and the Tories, suggesting rules and regulations, demanding heads and resignations, generally beating their breasts in righteous indignation, but forgetting of course that it is yet to come out about their friends and links to News International, and also it is yet to make headlines that virtually all of this happened while they were in power and News International were their main backers. Labour and the BBC have not learnt that the British public are better informed and more intelligent than they give them credit for. It seems obvious from Browns performance that this is for the most part a vindictive vendetta because News International switched allegiance to the Tories.

    Murdoch is playing a clever game too; let them accuse and let the furore die down, let each headline kill the next and let the public get bored, until he is ready with the headlines over the Guardian, Mirror Group and BBC crimes to be released.

    Milliband has opened a can of worms he is going to regret.

    1. uanime5
      July 18, 2011

      If that’s Murdoch’s plan then all Milliband needs to do is to destroy Murdoch’s empire before Murdoch can counter attack. Which is exactly what he’s doing now.

  21. Martin
    July 18, 2011

    Some of the print media have played holier than thou for ages. Part of their games is to sell papers by building folk up to be wonderful, then find some dirt and sell papers with the revelations.

    Oh well time to check on the Pound, Euro and Dollar! Perhaps a newspaper competition – which one is hear no evil, see no evil and think no evil. €,£,$ in that order ?

  22. Allan D
    July 18, 2011

    You are right to apply Mr Miliband’s argument for more media plurality to the BBC. Unfortunately Mr Miliband does not do that himself. Right at the end of his appearance in the City this morning one brave soul from the Mirror Group made exactly this point. However Mr Miliband dismissed it saying that the BBC was in a different position as it was bound by a Charter laid down by Parliament.

    While this true he omitted to mention the fact that the only way this Charter can be enforced and breaches of it policed is by the BBC itself yet earlier in his address he had railed against the culture of self-regulation in banking, MPs expenses and the Press as “bad” regulation yet he is prepared to tolerate it in the case of the BBC.

    It is true that there is a difference between the BBC and the Murdoch Empire. If I do not wish to read “The Times” or “The Sunday Times” or “The Sun” or watch Sky TV I am not obliged to pay for any of them. This is not the case with the BBC where I am obliged to buy its products whether I wish to purchase them or not on penalty of a court appearance, a fine and ultimately imprisonment.

    There is a case to be made for publicly-funded broadcasting. There is less of a case for a vast monolithic organisation with enormous overheads and little, if any, accountability running 4 national television channels, perghaps a dozen national radio channels, a full network of local radio stations, an overseas radio and television network, an enormous online presence as well as a large commercial book publishing and DVD production business all at public expense.

    If there is a need for an alternative to the commercial sector why not hand over the local radio stations to consortia of the local chambers of commerce, trades council and universities to manage and provide a genuine information service for the local community and reflect the varying needs of each community instead of the endless dreary phone-in programmes we get at the moment (London is particularly poorly served in this regard as BBC Radio London and the commercial station LBC are mirror images of each other which is why the music station Capital has the largest share of the audience).

    I suspect the real reason why Mr Miliband makes an exception of the BBC when it comes to his arguments about media plurality and self-regulation is that the BBC is generally sympathetic to both him and his party whilst the Murdoch Press is not.

  23. Vir Cantium
    July 18, 2011

    John, spot on as always.

    If I don’t like what NI (or other, for there are others equally guilty) ‘papers are doing, I don’t buy them. If I don’t like Sky’s output, I don’t subscribe and their advertisers will, if enough of us think likewise, follow suit.

    If I un-subscribed from the BBC, I’d go to prison.

    1. Jamess
      July 19, 2011

      Stop paying the license fee. Use the money saved to get fast internet connection and subscribe to things like LoveFilm. The added hastle can quickly be offset by a) knowing that the BBC isn’t getting your money and b) enjoying those threatening BBC notices about paying the license fee knowing that it’s costing the BBC money to send them.

  24. lojolondon
    July 18, 2011

    The BBC is completely biased, and unfortunately Dave Cameron has not reigned them in since he has been in power, even though he vowed to.

    We could do with another general election, I hope that UKIP will get 20% of the vote now, and then perhaps we can get some sensible actions through parliament, that will be in the best interests of the British people.

    A few suggestions are :
    Cancel Human rights act (as promised in the last election by Tories)
    A referendum on Europe (as promised in the last election by Tories)
    Action to ensure BBC impartiality (as promised in the last election by Tories)
    Strong action on immigration (as promised in the last election by Tories)
    Bonfire of the Quangos (as promised in the last election by Tories)
    Improved, more efficient NHS (as promised in the last election by Tories)

    See, no original ideas there – we just want to get all the things we were promised in the last several elections by the Conservatives.

    Reply: UKIP struggles to get 3% in a General Election and has never got anyone elected to Parliament. The Conservative party did not promise a referendum in the last election.

    1. Jamess
      July 19, 2011

      We’ve had 13 years of inept Labour government, and now the Conservatives are proving that they are no better. People will soon realise that whilst voting UKIP is likely to be a waste of time, voting Labour, Liberal or Conservative definitely is a waste of time.

      Get rid of Cameron and you still have a chance to restore your party.

  25. Steve Cox
    July 18, 2011

    “…we are getting saturation coverage of it in much of the media, in a way which is drowning out many stories and issues which will have more impact on everyone else’s life.”

    Spot on there, John. Andrew Haldenby had much the same point when he wrote this article:

    It’s well worth the read if only for this gem – something most of us here have been saying for several years:

    Events in America have dealt a crippling blow to those Britons who wish to postpone our fiscal recovery, such as the economists David Blanchflower and Will Hutton. Washington followed their prescription to the letter and little good it did them. When the financial crisis hit, the US Government did not just bail out some banks, it also poured money into a whole range of the nation’s normal activity, from cars to homes to tourism. The results have been disastrous. America is not recovering from this recession in a way that we would expect from such a vigorous, self-reliant country. In the past two years, the number of Americans in work has fallen, compared to the sharp rise in employment in the two years after the last deep recession in 1981-82. The economy has grown by only 3 per cent per year, which may be high in our terms but compares poorly with the US growth of 7 per cent in 1983 and 1984.

    The fiscal committee of the House of Representatives last week issued a report on the “so-called recovery” which, it said, “feels more like a malaise than a rebound”. It pointed out that the consequence of extra government spending isn’t just the risk of a full-blown Greek-style debt crisis. It is also “a more subtle stagnation”, based on the fact that businesses stop investing because they are discomforted not only by uncertainty over government policy but also by the certainty of higher taxes to come. In other words, more active government hurts us not only in the future but also today.

  26. Alan Wheatley
    July 18, 2011

    I think the BBC funded from a licence fee is a great asset to the Nation. But the BBC is a mixed bag, and there is plenty of scope to improve that which is sub-standad without pulling the rug from beneath that which is setting the standard. Probably the BBC is to big and the licence fee to high, but the principle is beneficial.

    One BBC TV Channel with technical backup should be switched to providing a broadcast outlet for the government, opposition and political parties to communicate directly with the population WITHOUT BBC editorial control. That way politicians would be able to communicate their message with air time available as of right to say what they want in the way they want to say it, and so “cosying up” would no long be such an imperative. The independent media can then get on with their critical analysis and opinion, and there results a far better balance.

    This would also be a far better way of using public resources to fund (in kind) political parties rather than by giving them cash.

  27. Sue
    July 18, 2011

    The one thing that does surprise me is, you all seem so shocked!

    Most of us have been extremely aware that our police are now corrupt enforcers at the beck and call of the “politically correct” set. Instead of protecting the citizens that pay their wages, we are constantly in fear of being fined or put into prison for heinous crimes like smoking in pubs and dropping a sweet wrapper.

    Our politicians, including this shambles of a coalition completely disregard the wishes of the electorate, nanny, nudging, bullying and forcing us into a dictatorial union we have had no say in.

    The MSM reporting only what their told instead of what they get paid for. Unbiased, real world NEWS! Do you really think we care about what the “sick and famous” are getting up to? We would be buying The Sun if we wanted gossip!

    The whole rotten lot of you have the stench of corruption oozing from every pore and worse still, you continue to ignore us, knowing that the majority want a say in where our futures lie.

    Where is our democracy?


  28. Bernard Otway
    July 18, 2011

    The BBC has been infiltrated by the left as has the rest of our main state organs,this began in 1951 after liebour lost to the tories,it slowed down when Wilson got in in 1964,and almost stopped in about 1966 when he got a bigger majority,because they thought that now they would RIG the playing field in their favour and never lose.However world events conspired against them as well as those at home,and they lost to Heath [they really were surprised] in
    1970.So it started again and now will never stop[actually they don’t like democracy as it is possible to LOSE when you mess up].The left is an identical twin to the BROEDERBOND which started exactly the same thing in about 1920 and won in 1948 in South Africa immediately enacting Apartheid which was designed to keep them in perpetual power via
    the ballot box by denying the vote to all non whites and making sure that they the Afrikaaners outbred the Englesman,during 1947 till 1977 as well 6 million Of our countrymen all white emmigrated to Australia,Canada and New Zealand while only about 250,000 were allowed in to South Africa,WHY they could vote and IF they got a normal share of this 6 million,say 25% then 1,500,000 which would have meant that the NATS
    would have lost,the left through liebour and its Broederbond Gruniads have now hit back
    with Hackgate,hoping to Kill off the free press and cover up all their shortcomings,after all these wrongdoings happened on their watch 1997 till 2010 WHY did they NOT get found out much earlier IN DETAIL,I believe they were,actually in black plastic bags which were
    ignored,then off course they lost again in 2010,I have said in other posts that I call the Gruniad TAVDA [Tass and Pravda combined].When the Dictatorship comes it will fill that
    position as Official mouthpiece of the Left Govt. and become the Bible of Greenism and all the other Quasi religious stuff like Diversity,Multiculturalism,Gay rights, and all the other mumbo jumbo that we will be punished for disagreeing with,our only hope then will be to NOT vote at all,but even that won’t work,after all they had so called elections in the ONE PARTY USSR.If I were Murdoch I would use Fox to continually attack the ruling elite here
    by providing it free on the internet with lots of coverage of events here while selling advertising around this free service ,I for one would watch this avidly as would millions of others and then talk about it to all and sundry.

  29. Electro-Kevin
    July 18, 2011


    If the Right Wing (Murdoch) press were the tail wagging the Parliamentary dog, then why did we get the Guardian’s agenda in full ?

    1. Electro-Kevin
      July 18, 2011

      Guardian – the printed wing of the BBC !

  30. Damien
    July 18, 2011

    All too often we hear that executives at the BBC believe they are paid very high salaries in line with the industry even though they have an in-built captive subscription base via the TV license fees. This means that they do not have the same pressure to respond to the needs of their viewing audience.

    Is it not time now to look at selling off the BBC and thereby freeing up the service to open and fair competition? Selling off the BBC would raise £10-15 billion that could be used to pay down government debt and most likely result in a better service. It would also allow the employees to be paid the going rate for their efforts.I see the BBC no different than any other utility in terms of service and regulation so the governance could remain. Services like the world service could be retained in a much smaller government organisation all at less cost to the taxpayers.

  31. Matt
    July 18, 2011

    If Mr Ed wants to look at media ownership shares, then look no further than the BBC.

    They infiltrate all commercial areas, provide it free of charge to the recipient and bill the taxpayer.

    If Mr Murdoch’s NI were to depart – the Times would close – its subsidised by him or maybe a Russian Billionaire would buy it.

    His direction of Sky has given people a lot of choice – football coverage has made the Premier League one of the top in the world.

    The coverage is out of all proportion.

  32. Javelin
    July 18, 2011

    John you’re right to say that Westmister and the UK media have become obsessed with this story. On Thursday the Eu leaders will either have to make a siesmic shift in their views of the fiscal integration of the EU or accept Greece will default. On Friday the US politicians will either accept massive tax cuts or tax rises – and I don’t see the Tea Party Republicans allowing tax rises.

    So despite alot of false sunsets (which Ive never believed). I do think the world MUST change this Friday. There can be no more debt denial when I leave the office on Friday. It’s going to be crunch time. All the options have been enumerated, the consequences have been examined. We all know a seismic shift has to happen by this Friday. Either politically or economically. Yet the UK media is still obsessed by Rupert Murdoch.

  33. uanime5
    July 18, 2011

    How exactly is the BBC dominant? They don’t have any newspapers, only have one 24 news channel, one Parliament channel, and four free view channels (6 including the children’s channels). Given that there are 40 other free view channels, including 3 other news channels, it’s obvious that the BBC isn’t in a dominant position.

    When you factor in how many hundreds of channels you get with Sky or another provider the number of BBC channels is minute.

    1. Mark
      July 19, 2011

      I suggest you look at some BARB data that show how many listeners and viewers watch the various channels and news programming. There is no question that the BBC dominates (it has by far the largest news gathering and dissemination budget, so that should not be a surprise).

  34. Bob
    July 18, 2011

    (There is a site ed)which has been exposing the BBC’s pro statism, pro Labour, pro EU bias in news, current affairs, drama, comedy and childrens TV for years.
    Abolish the licence fee and fund the BBC through voluntary subscription.
    The licence fee system has past it’s “use by” date.

    1. APL
      July 19, 2011

      Bob: “Abolish the licence fee and fund the BBC through voluntary subscription.”


  35. Kenneth
    July 18, 2011

    Money Box on Radio 4 was a campaign to increase our debt in order to subsidise rents and build more ‘social housing’. There was no talk of reducing immigration or of removing the distortion caused by excessive housing benefit.

    Last week Front Row, another Radio 4 programme, featured the director of the Manchester International Festival extolling the benefits of using taxpayer money to subsidise the event. Unfortunately no taxpayer was invited to put the other side of the argument.

    These are two examples out of thousands of BBC broadcast hours that have added to the pressure to maintain or even increase public spending.

    This propaganda has a material effect on our wellbeing and we will end up with austerity unless the public can be given a balanced view of the world.

  36. Steve Whitfield
    July 18, 2011

    On the subject of the phone hacking scandal I believe that the case has been massively over-hyped by the BBC and other individuals with an axe to grind against News International..

    My view is that the wider nation is not convulsed with shock and rage at the thought of phone messages being listened to as the politicians keep telling us so gleefully (I am more concerned that this country has started two un-winable bloody wars to satisfy the vanity of Tony Blair and David Cameron).
    Some bad judgement calls have been made and the mark overstepped but nobody had been killed or even injured. A few unfortunate individuals have had their privacy invaded by a non-governmental organisation. But to a no greater an extent than all of us routinely have our privacy invaded by this and other governments, when our phone calls are monitored, our emails are scanned and then kept for 10 years etc. While I have much sympathy for the individuals involved, a broader perspective is badly needed.

    So now some people will be tried and sentenced if found guilty. No new legislation is needed. All that is needed is for the police to do a thorough job without interference. Meantime, there are many,many more important problems facing the country. Meanwhile I AM convulsed with shock and rage at the monumental hypocrisy, waste of time and energy over this smokescreen and the notion that some dishonourable politicians might get their grubby hands onto the formation of some kind of so called ‘independent commision’ to control the press.

  37. Bernard Otway
    July 18, 2011

    Uanime5,sky has 10 million subscribers [look up subscribe in the dictionary] there are 65 million people in this country, and the adults are at least 80%, so that makes for 52 million,
    of these 10 million subscribe to sky which leaves 42 million who don’t that is 4 to 1,you are like all the lefties I debate whom I always leave in tears you don’t understand what you are
    saying,and as for understanding your subject ?,the BBC even propagandises through it’s entertainment side,and as for current affairs and science the same thing, I don’t even watch
    country life anymore as the climate thing is parroted in every show,news programmes and interviews with the public (etc- words left out ed)

  38. Mark
    July 19, 2011

    News is an intelligence service.

    Intelligence services have traditionally used a variety of techniques to garner information: the honey trap, the money trap, communication intercept (ranging from overhearing through bugging and tapping phones and internet connections and opening mail), planting moles in target organisations, talking to friends of the target, surveillance, torture, blackmail and so forth. There is also analysis of openly available information, including the propaganda released by those being reported on.

    To be useful, intelligence has to be targetted. In assessing news as intelligence, we need to agree what is appropriate as a target, and what are legitimate means of investigation given the nature of the possible story. We cannot expect that investigative journalism will expose wrongdoing without using some of the arts of spycraft. However, the state’s industrial scale snooping on its citizens has desensitised them to tactics such as phone hacking, and its creation of databases has given too many of its employees access to sensitive information that is readily misused for everything from personal vendettas to undermining the state itself.

    News is also entertainment. In the modern world, it has come to look like Roman circuses, with ever more bizarre stories placed before the public’s jaded palette to amuse and distract them. Frankly, we would do better to encourage more artistic entertainments.

    News is also propaganda. Spin merchants are ubiquitous, especially in government and the quangocracy (e.g. IPSA required THREE press officers in its establishment, when none would have been a better number, with the manager answering to press and to Parliament). The Fourth Estate (which now includes broadcast and internet media) still has power to decide the news agenda, despite the emergence of internet competition.

    As soon as we start to control the press it ceases to be free. Of course, there is control in some elements which are indeed no longer free (provided from taxes): they are required to be balanced yet they are their own judge and jury and not subject to market forces. It is the lack of a press critical of the orthodoxy of the PC liberal left that dominates electronic media that is the problem. Miliband appears to wish to entrench that still further. Ownership of newspaper print runs is an irrelevance: they represent a technology in decline.

  39. rose
    July 19, 2011

    It all seems so transparent, just what they say they want: the British Brainwashing Corporation is convinced the PM is leading a party which intends to curb their momopoly on brainwashing and bring them to account. Also a party which wants to do something about the EU. So he and it must be destroyed. Why are there so many useful idiots helping them at the moment? I can understand the Telegraph, Independent, and Guardian wanting to kill the Times and Sunday Times; and I can understand the opposition wanting to break up the Coalition and refashion a Left/ Liberal one; I can understand UKIP wanting to take advantage of the chaos – just. But why are so many Conservatives and sensible Liberals abetting a coup which could land us with Mrs Balls (the compromise candidate) as PM for a very long time?

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