Paying for journalism

Some MPs in the UK have rushed in to side with the Australian government and Parliament in their row with Facebook. The Australian government is proposing a law to make platforms like Facebook pay to use extracts from newspapers and media reports on their sites, so the journalism involved will not go unrewarded. Facebook has countered by  saying they in effect give the papers and media free adverts by posting some of their material with full credits.  The journalists get access to a much bigger audience which in turn boosts their commercial value. Facebook decided that the best way to comply with the prospective law is to ban all journalism extracts from established media outlets from its sites so it need not make any payments. This tiff provides a good opportunity to review the current state of journalism and how we pay for things here in the UK. I do  not propose to weigh into the Australian debate, which their Parliament is best able to conduct for itself.

Let me declare my prejudices. I am a fan of good journalism. A well researched and informative article helps my education. Lively and informed opinion pieces contribute to the national conversation, vital in a democracy. Well written and amusing pieces are entertaining, a welcome diversion for time off.  Many  pay for some of this by buying  papers and electronic subscriptions, by paying the BBC Licence fee, by their employer taking out collective subscriptions for services needed for work, and by accepting adverts alongside journalism to enable them to enjoy some free services. Each of these paying  models has its advantages and disadvantages.

My concern with the current UK media relates to editorial choices and use of journalistic talent. I am particularly critical of the BBC because I have to pay for it whether I want to use it or not. It regularly fails to live up to the ideals of its Charter. As one who used to listen to a lot of Radio 4 news and watch one of the main evening tv  news programmes every night, I often find myself turning off, faced with the same diet of highly selective topics and systematic bias of worldview. For much of the last year the two story lines of pandemic and global warming have dominated most news  broadcasts. It is often not a case of “news”,  but recycling “olds”. It is often not hard news but regurgitated opinion or forecasts, not reported events and government statements but opinion surveys and lobby group reports inspired to prove a viewpoint. In order to be better informed I turn direct to the sources of the news and read the statements, draft laws, budgets and the rest for myself, as it is a rare day that you get much factual content or informed comment on the important decisions and events that unfold.

Armed with the facts and statements of those making the news I often find I am in a very different conversation from the trivia, ideological repetitions  or exaggerations of the main broadcasts. The BBC makes use of highly selected experts, many of whom seem to share a clear one sided political viewpoint about the importance of powerful global government as the answer to their view of what the problems are. Some of them do  not seem to have read the detailed documents that underpin the issue. On economic matters I find they usually misrepresent the position  by drawing on some highly spun interpretations and not using the actual figures. They normally ignore important statistical releases, as with the state debt where they do not usually distinguish between net and gross allowing for Bank of England ownership of debts. They rarely report cash figures for public spending and spending increases .  They are not interested in public sector productivity issues. They accepted the Labour “austerity” analysis of the previous decade without revealing that over that decade there was a very large rise in tax revenue, a rise in cash public spending  and even a very small increase in real public spending, contrary to the generally stated cuts in spending and a failure to increase taxes enough. They  regularly ignore the preoccupations of voters with issues like illegal migration, politically correct language, restrictions on freedoms , controls on our freedoms and high taxes on enterprise.They usually dislike or ignore England.

 

178 Comments

  1. agricola
    February 21, 2021

    Good journalism has for sure been sqeezed out of the BBC and exchanged for a liberal elite view of the World. Done by using only selected journalists and sources of information, or on programmes like Question Time, using using a number of “opinionate” of matching views or alternativly of loaded audiences for the same purpose. Gone are the forensic one to one interview by the Robin Days of yesteryear. Andrew Neil has created his own chanel in an attempt to bring back at least a level playing field.

    Government, who have a degree of control of the BBC, are not apparently prepared to bite the bullet with swathing management changes to return it to its Reithian principals, or to remove it from tax collection and make it live or die in the commercial world.

    Newapapers are different. We had them in the school library, Daily Worker to FT with the instruction to as far as possible read them all and form our own opinions. In time they evolve their own bias and we recognise it. Most have experienced their high points and low points in investigative and opiniated journalism. Let newspaper sales be the arbiter of their continued existence.

    I do not subscribe to any media platforms such as twitter or facebook all being vehicles to enhance the finances of their owners with little social responsibility for what they allow to be published. I often wonder why we in the UK who invented the computer and the world wide web do not set about creating a site on Reithian lines, a Facebook with principals. Has the World lost its appetite for fact,and opinion clearly delineated, or are there too many who assuage such. Seeing the reaction of the majority in the UK to Covid, be it the population or specifically the NHS, I judge there is a majority who make moral decisions and would welcome such a platform.

    Reply
    1. agricola
      February 21, 2021

      Surely moderation is long overdue. How early does one have to awake.

      Reply
  2. PB
    February 21, 2021

    I read the FT and Economist for the best part of 30 to 40 years respectively and the Sunday Times until it went from 7 supplements to 8 largely because I thought I would learn something. The Establishment media have seemingly sought to become the story. About 3 or 4 years ago I found myself reading the Economist from the obituary page at the back towards the front rather than the other way round. I am all for absorbing diversity of views but the front half seem to be unrelated to the reality of my world. I did not renew my subscription.

    Not to labour the point I was appalled at the crassness of some of the questions at the Downing Street briefings last Spring (I stopped watching). The lobby journalists seemed to be auditioning for a Noel Edmunds gotcha moment rather than trying to enlighten themselves.

    Reply
    1. Ian@Barkham
      February 21, 2021

      @PB +1

      Reply
  3. Mark B
    February 21, 2021

    Good morning

    Good journalism takes time and costs money. You also have to contend with Health and Safety Legislation, Unions and Lawyers as journalists and companies have become more risk averse. To get the good stories, you have to go into the teeth of the danger. And even if the story is not risky, as our kind host alludes, some of it has become mind bogglingly tedious and detailed. I mean, who wants to research and report on a highly complex fraud case for example ?

    The ‘Red Tops’ showed the way to journalism. Cheap simple one lines and salacious that people can readily consume and generally get the gist of. As we moved to 24 hour NEWS and greater competition it became evident that journalism was more about getting rating that reporting facts. Added to the fact that most so called journalists are nothing of the sort, just go betweens between the State and the consumer in most cases (eg COVID 19 reporting), and you arrive at that which our kind hosts states. Unwatchable / unlistenable crap !

    There is another element. And that is where Palmface and others come into play. As newspapers, radio and TV give way to the power of the internet, we have to look at places like this. We need can now choose what it is we want to listen to and watch. If there is a subject that we are interested in, then there are those out there that can provide it. The traditional means are losing a battle they are not best equipped to survive. People want quality over quantity as quantity is already supplied, and that included so called journalists.

    We are witnessing a massive change in the way that we get and consume NEWS. Smaller, specialist, non-professional but well educated and committed bloggers seems to be having a better time of it. And no amount of restrictions and pay walls will stem the tide. The Big Boys have real competition and they are not liking it.

    Reply
  4. Shirley M
    February 21, 2021

    Why not give the reader a choice, as happens now? If I see a link that interests me I will go to it, but if it is behind a paywall I usually do without. If the article is free to view, then what is the publication losing? Nothing, but they do get additional readers of their article. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

    I agree that the BBC is the pits, and I rarely view any of their online articles as I know in advance what their slant will be.

    Reply
    1. Timaction
      February 21, 2021

      Pointless watching BBC, Sly News and ITV getting worse as they peddle the same nonsense without challenge on all the issues Sir John raises. It’s best to triangulate from other written news sources.

      Reply
  5. Sea_Warrior
    February 21, 2021

    An interesting post – and it was free, so bonus points, Sir John.
    I really do wish that the government would go to war against the likes of Facebook. The companies are too big for their own boots and seek more influence than is healthy. Whenever I see their CEOs lecturing the world on this and that, I find myself reminded of the antagonist in ‘I Robot’. Policy responses? Governments should be wary of mega-corporations swallowing up, through acquisitions, anything that looks like competition. America’s use of anti-trust legislation hasn’t gone far enough and we are trailing in the wake of that weak effort.

    Reply
    1. Ian Wragg
      February 21, 2021

      Precisely. Facebook, Amazon and Apple CEO,s lecturing on climate change etc whilst flying about in their private planes or polluting the atmosphere with space flights.
      Followed slavishly by the BBC. Foreign good UK bad.

      Reply
      1. Timaction
        February 21, 2021

        Exactly right. Their behaviour during the run up to the American election was appalling and anti democratic.

        Reply
  6. MiC
    February 21, 2021

    John, peace between nations, and their freely reaching informed, well-intentioned agreements for the benefit of all of humanity – and of life generally on this planet – is not “global government”.

    I think that you really do need to emphasise this to your followers here, who seem to think that it absolutely is.

    Reply
  7. Roger Hart
    February 21, 2021

    Please Sir John, the BBC is the state broadcasting company, it is your licenced fool and you can go and moan to Ofcom if you have a valid complaint.

    You started out well lamenting the state of journalism – true – and then moved to that tired old schtick, moaning about the BBC. Leave it Sir John; this is a degrading trope run by the old dead tree press that wants to knock lumps of red meat off the BBC to feed itself.

    The old press is dying on its feet whilst the BBC is quite successful, the old papers are buying up the cheaper sort of politician with a view to breaking up the BBC – for profit. Have nothing to do with it Sir John, it is a disgusting morass that lessens all who touch it.

    Let the dead tree press compete in the marketplace – or die. As is well known, the old press’s owners have political influence and will try to buy politicians. Just look at the Telegraph, stuffed with has-been politicians and wannabe politicians. A very nasty sight but not honest journalism or a model worth following.

    Reply
    1. formula57
      February 21, 2021

      @ Roger Hart – Why can we not let the dead BBC compete in the marketplace – or die?

      Reply
    2. matthu
      February 21, 2021

      The BBC is doing well? Representing everybody’s views then? Profitable is it – or relying on state subsidy?

      Reply
    3. No Longer Anonymous
      February 21, 2021

      No other organisation in the world benefits from a state enforced subscription for owning a globally proliferous device.

      Reply
  8. Lifelogic
    February 21, 2021

    Exactly. It seems to me that facebook are perfectly entitled to do what they have done in Australia in response to the daft proposed law.

    The BBC is also clearly very unfairly funded competition for others. It is also an appallingly biased and usually wrong headed propaganda outfit. Outrageously biased and wrong on so many issues but particularly on climate alarmism, Brexit and almost all lefty, woke lunacy causes.

    So what about the Supreme Court’s war against the Gig economy JR. Will the government change the law to allow free contracts in this area. I assume not as this government are essentially at war with the self employed indeed with the productive sector in general. Also at war with landlords it seems, whom they regards as part of social service charities and tax on profits they have not even made.

    Reply
    1. Peter Parsons
      February 21, 2021

      The Supreme Court is not “at war” with the gig economy, they are simply interpreting UK law enacted by politicians.

      I very much doubt that the likes of Uber would agree to the free contracts you refer to. A free contract would allow an Uber driver to set their own price, not be forced to take the one set by Uber. A free contract would allow an Uber driver to refuse any work without penalty, again something not possible under Uber’s current arrangements.

      Reply
  9. matthu
    February 21, 2021

    I find that I only have limited time to scan the news. I would prefer to read quality (i.e. paid for) journalism rather than (free) disinformation and I would prefer to pay for a diet of balanced journalism with quality well-argued opinion from a variety of view points.

    Unfortunately this is no longer available – or if it is, then it requires an expensive subscription to more quality journals than I can justify.

    Newspapers today either follow a subscription model which ties the reader in to one particular viewpoint, or they follow an advertisement funded model that relies on clickbait, disinformation and celebrity news to encourage readers to keep visiting their pages.

    Subscriber newspapers require consumers to pay a single price entitling them to read a shallow selection across a broad front of topics: fashion, gossip, feminism, veganism, sport, politics, economics, current affairs, crosswords etc. while I suspect that most consumers focus on less than a quarter of the content that is available to them. Subscriber newspapers usually put forward only one entrenched view on any partisan topic (be it Brexit / Trumpism / global warming / veganism / Black Lives Matter / government spending woke-ism) and never consider any opposing opinion.

    What I would prefer (if it existed) would be a single subscription which would allow me to dip into a wider cross-section of providers and research more deeply into a smaller number of areas in an effort to be exposed to something approaching a more balanced opinion. The subscription model would need to be sophisticated enough to reward individual journalists according to the contribution they made.

    And the single subscription would need to be low enough to reflect the fact that consumers have limited time availability during each day to read multiple journals or newspapers from cover to cover.

    Reply
    1. Mark
      February 21, 2021

      I think you have an excellent idea. I used to have access to a range of highly specialised news sources at work. Individual subscriptions per publication of the order of $2,000 a year or more. Plus Reuters and Telerate screens, with again specialist journalists who knew their subjects in detail. For those who need accurate news in a corporate or government setting that feeds into decisions that can have effects in the millions or even billions for their company or country, it is easy to justify. At the corporate or government level there is still a lot of skill required to turn accurate news into sound judgements about policy or operational actions, but without that input it is impossible. Government and business also employ their own internal correspondents in overseas branch offices and embassies.

      But there is no good reason why ordinary citizens shouldn’t be well informed. Indeed, that is really essential for a functioning democracy and to prevent abuse by those in positions οf power. It used to be the case that mainstream journalism had its own specialist correspondents across a wide range of coverage, and they would hire in contributions from specialist stringers. No more, as cut and paste and unquestioning acceptance or rejection of a press release are the norm.

      I would hope that news aggregation services could attract enough custom and quality news suppliers to form a viable way forward. That this is not offered at an affordable price suggests there are difficulties in getting there.

      Reply
  10. Fedupsoutherner
    February 21, 2021

    Pick up the Guardian, Independent or watch the BBC and you know what you are going to get. Global warming, Views that are critical of the meat industry, BLM and the pandemic. All giving us the downbeat message that we’re doomed. There doesn’t seem to be any alternate according to them and yet when you read or look for yourself beyond the tabloids and main broadcasters you will find many well explained solutions and alternate theoris. Real basic science which can’t be changed and is true. The likes of Bellamy who speak out are silenced. The public are gullible. They love to get involved in the sleazy reporting and believe anything showing difficult circumstances in nature as proof of catastrophic MANMADE global warming. Anyone like Trump who tries to expose much of the nonsense is soon ridiculed. The world is being controlled by very wealthy individuals and silly film stars who have too much influence plus fiances of party leaders.

    Reply
    1. turboterrier
      February 21, 2021

      F U S
      +1 Well said

      Reply
    2. Jim Whitehead
      February 21, 2021

      +1 also, thank you.

      Reply
    3. Timaction
      February 21, 2021

      +1

      Reply
    4. M Davis
      February 21, 2021

      And me!

      Reply
  11. oldtimer
    February 21, 2021

    Your criticism of the BBC is well founded and one I share. The BBC is designed to behave the way you describe. From past revelations, early in the global warming propaganda phase, it was clear that the news, documentary, drama and even comedy departments were briefed on the line they should take. That occurred during Hall’s first tenure as DG. Nothing has changed in this approach, which appears to be extended to any subject or issue in which the BBC takes an interest. The BBC lives in a comfort zone, well padded by its licence fee. It is time this cozy arrangement was ended and the BBC had to compete like other news organisations.

    Reply
    1. M Davis
      February 21, 2021

      … It is time this cozy arrangement was ended and the BBC had to compete like other news organisations. …

      Hear, hear!

      Reply
  12. Fedupsoutherner
    February 21, 2021

    Alot of today’s probkems begin with what pupils are being taught in schools and universities now. Watching quiz programmes I am astounded by the lack of common knowledge now amongst the younger generations. I have to wonder what they are being taught and what they are reading in their spare time.

    Reply
  13. Lifelogic
    February 21, 2021

    Lord Young today in the Telegraph:- “We will never fix universities until we admit that too many people go to them”.

    Indeed about 4 times the number. Cut out all the soft loans , other than perhaps for a few subjects such as some science, medicine, engineering, construction and the likes. With modern technology there is little reason why (for most subjects) they cannot be studied perfectly well part time, while working, on day release or in the evening on line. The idea of millions of three + year degrees costing circa £75k (fees plus living costs) plus three years loss of earning is absurd.

    75% of these degrees are clearly fairly or totally worthless many are actively damaging. Listen to the Black Studies Prof. from City of Birmingham University on QuestionTime recently for example.

    It seems that the UK are considering banning the imported mineral water in retaliation to the EU seafood battle. Why does anyone buy bottled water when we have taps and fountains?

    Reply
    1. Alan Jutson
      February 21, 2021

      Certainly agree that many University Courses are simply not worth the money, and are extremely poor value.

      Far better to earn whilst you learn.

      Reply
    2. a-tracy
      February 21, 2021

      Lifelogic, we have fountains? Where, we don’t in the County where I live, nor in our largest shopping area nearby.

      Reply
      1. Lifelogic
        February 21, 2021

        No enough I agree.

        There is a charity:- The Drinking Fountain Association
        The objectives of the Association are to promote the provision of drinking water for people and animals in the United Kingdom and overseas, and the preservation of the Association’s archive materials, artefacts, drinking fountains, cattle troughs and other installations.

        Also helps people stay a bit slimmer I suppose.

        Reply
    3. a-tracy
      February 23, 2021

      Lifelogic – ‘Tuition fees were first introduced across the entire United Kingdom in September 1998 under the Labour government of Tony Blair to fund tuition for undergraduate and postgraduate certificate students at universities; students were required to pay up to £1,000 a year for tuition.’ This was repealed other than in ENGLAND>

      It is now 23 years later, how many of these [£3000 to £ 4000]- tuition fee loans are paid off by English graduates right now? If it enabled people to get a higher valued job they should all be paid back. Shouldn’t the public know if they were soft loans from the UK public. The simple question is – how many of the English students starting University in autumn 1998 (academic year 1998/99) have paid off their loan in full already and what % are on track to pay off the full amount by 2028? Which courses, Universities are the best to achieve this.

      Reply
  14. mickc
    February 21, 2021

    Good article.
    As you rightly say, there is very little actual journalism out there. It is all “analysis”, or comment pieces by those with a political agenda.
    Such “news” as is reported is often presented in such a way as to almost, if not actually, “fake news “.
    Actual news is now mainly found on various sites on the internet.

    Reply
    1. Lifelogic
      February 21, 2021

      Indeed the dire BBC seems to just regurgitate propaganda press releases from government, charities, climate alarmists and other pressure groups with zero sensible analysis or questioning of it at all. Is anyone at the BBC right of centre politically or a climate realist. Did anyone at the BBC vote Brexit or not support Biden? Does anyone front of camera at the BBC have a decent science degree, a grasp of logic, numbers and an ability to reason and question. Does anyone at the BBC actually realise that the governments can only really “invest” by taking money off businesses and people who would have invested it far better anyway?

      Reply
      1. hefner
        February 22, 2021

        And who/what do you regurgitate, LL? Allister Heath, A. Evans-Pritchard or other Telegraph columnists, plus a few Spectator ones? And what have you done with your multiple science degrees? Did you create a start-up? Is/Was it successful? Did it enter the FTSE350? Is LL a cover name for a J.Dyson? or a T. Berners-Lee? or a T. Baylis?
        I am waiting for answers with bating breath.

        Reply
        1. Lifelogic
          February 22, 2021

          Not alas as wealthy as Dyson whom I rather admire. Perhaps I should indeed have gone in for making over expensive yellow vacuum cleaners, fans or heaters. I have various diverse engineering and building material businesses, property investments, a few inventions, some document storage companies and various property developments.

          Reply
    2. hefner
      February 21, 2021

      If one wants ‘news’ untainted by ‘analysis’, would it not be better to subscribe to news agencies like AFP, AP, Reuters, UPI, …

      ‘Actual news is now mainly found on various sites on the internet’: so, are they objective and neutral? Or do you like (some of) them because they reflect your way of thinking, and your (possible) own biases?
      And, do you read Sir John’s blog to get unbiased news?

      Reply
      1. Mark
        February 21, 2021

        Unfortunately, partly with changes in ownership, agencies are themselves becoming increasingly biassed. But I still prefer them to much of the press and broadcast news.

        Reply
  15. GilesB
    February 21, 2021

    Once upon a time newspapers clearly distinguished between news written by journalists and opinions written by columnists/commentators/editors. And advertisements were clearly identified as such. Now they are all interwoven with added pinches of PR press releases and highly imaginative fiction.

    Also advertisements are blatantly deceptive ‘Everyone in Wokingham is talking about this watch’. No they are not! Publishers should be responsible for the accuracy of what they publish.

    Reply
    1. Fred.H
      February 21, 2021

      maybe the BBC should preface all ‘news’ coverage with ‘the following is the opinion of a news editor and may be contested!’

      Reply
    2. hefner
      February 21, 2021

      GilesB, Your Wokingham comment is only brought to you because you let your computer/ tablet/ mobile phone know your geographical position.

      Prevent your device to distribute that info (With Apple devices, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and switch off the positioning either for all apps or more cleverly for all apps that do not need to know your exact position as some apps really need the info to work properly). There is a similar possibility for Android systems.

      Reply
  16. Lifelogic
    February 21, 2021

    Rishi Sunak’s first anniversary as Chancellor as Budget looms 3rd March and many seem to think he is doing a good job. Not at all, his first action was to cut entrepreneurs tax relief by 90% then to piss billions down the drain (even paying 50% of people’s restaurant bills with other people’s taxes. He is even talking of yet further tax increases when we have the highest taxes for 70 years. HS2, the net zero agenda, renewable and electric car subsidies and further tax increases are pure economic lunacy.

    Reply
    1. Sea_Warrior
      February 21, 2021

      Yep – Sunak’s overrated. If he is to stay in Cabinet then he should remain at the Treasury, to show he can get us out of the hole that he bears some responsibility for pushing us into. I can’t forgive him for signing up to one harebrained Boris scheme after another.

      Reply
  17. Everhopeful
    February 21, 2021

    Social media has dealt journalism a terrible blow by accepting/obeying government censorship.
    How can we ever trust what we read when we know that some views are not aired on the grounds of near illegality?
    How can we ever have a discussion about anything when arguments that do not suit …(the govt? Or who exactly has taken away freedom of speech?)..are proscribed.
    Good journalism only lived in the Free West and now it is not free!

    Reply
    1. jerry
      February 21, 2021

      @Everhopeful; Censorship of what us mere plebs could ‘publish’ or access existed long before the internet, never mind what most call social media.

      Beyond acts of direct censorship, some were very unhappy that the BBC broadcast “Cathy Come Home” back in 1966, the BBC was also leant on in the 1980s due to a certain Panorama programme, many claim Thames TV suffered its franchise fate because it did not censor its own programming (This Week), Ch4 was leant on in 2001 due to a ‘Brass Eye’ episode, and of course the BBC and their R4 Today programme was leant on in a most spectacular way back in 2003.

      When people talk about wanting Free Speech, all to often their wish is for the freedom to say or hear what ever they choose, but not necessarily for others to have the same freedom – the only universal freedom is that of being outraged and to demand others stop!

      Reply
      1. Everhopeful
        February 21, 2021

        Nope.
        Free speech is exactly what the words imply. Debate must not be shut down for fear of “hurt”!
        I mentioned social media because JR was talking about a platform which does indulge in a huge degree of politically motivated censorship.
        That control is now seen throughout the entire media.
        And that is dangerous when one political viewpoint ( due to placements and pressurising) dominates.
        NB…don’t fall into the trap of believing that films/photos of poverty/stories are truthful. Film makers, artists etc. often have political agendas.

        Reply
        1. jerry
          February 21, 2021

          @Everhopeful; “JR was talking about a platform which does indulge in a huge degree of politically motivated censorship.”

          I thought he was talking about Facebook and then the BBC, not the BNN or certain broadcasters in the USA?

          The only person falling into a trap is you Everehopeful, sorry but you do not have a first clue what constitutes Free Speech. Facebook does not censor the truth, they do block lies, slander/libel and certain conspiracy theories, as does our host.

          Reply
          1. Everhopeful
            February 21, 2021

            You obviously have never used that platform.
            How do you know what JR blocks?
            You get a lot deleted do you?

          2. jerry
            February 22, 2021

            @Everhopeful; “How do you know what JR blocks?”

            Because he has often told us what his editorial/moderation line is!

      2. hefner
        February 21, 2021

        +1

        Reply
  18. Thames Trader
    February 21, 2021

    Too often when watching the BBC TV News it feels like I’m watching a campaigning programme like Panorama and most of the time there’s an anti-government viewpoint. Other times they devote huge amounts of air time to speculation and what might happen before a government announcement. Why can’t the BBC simply report what has happened ?

    Reply
    1. Sea_Warrior
      February 21, 2021

      In fairness to the BBC – and I can’t believe I have just said that – perhaps the government should stop trailing key speeches before they are made.

      Reply
      1. hefner
        February 21, 2021

        Sunday 21, by 18:00 I had already heard two news bulletins talking about what the PM might be telling the Cabinet this Monday in the morning, the HoC at 3pm, the country at 7pm. And I would bet that most newspapers tomorrow morning will be doing the same.

        Reply
    2. Dave Andrews
      February 21, 2021

      The coverage of the Biden rise to presidency of the US appeared rather like party political broadcasts for the Democratic Party.

      Reply
    3. MiC
      February 21, 2021

      Actions speak louder than words.

      The Government needs the BBC to treat things said by its people as if they were respectable, statesmanlike things to say, however disgraceful and preposterous they might be.

      Many listeners, hearing those words treated like this, will accept that they are.

      That is a far greater accomplishment than actually getting them to believe or to agree with those things.

      The BBC unfailingly does this enormous service.

      Reply
      1. Fred.H
        February 21, 2021

        Martin ‘Actions speak louder than words.’
        -except perhaps Mao’s Little Red Book which could be read, and perhaps understood by vast numbers of semi-literate peasants?

        Reply
  19. Sharon
    February 21, 2021

    I couldn’t agree more with your piece this morning!

    I have never used Facebook (or twitter), so don’t really know how it works, but it seems a good way of spreading propaganda to those who use it as their only source of news.

    I listen to Talk radio, but even their news bulletins irritate me for being opinionated and not always accurate, much as the BBC news.

    Reply
    1. Christine
      February 21, 2021

      I enjoy Talk Radio. I agree with you about their news bulletins, I’ve even written to them to complain about how bias and misleading they are.

      Reply
    2. ian@Barkham
      February 21, 2021

      @Sharon – You highlight the sinister side of the Internet. In not using Facebook doesn’t make you immune from them, they do know who you are. The collected collated your data via friend associates and family that do use the facility. To Facebook you have no right to anonymity, you are their commodity to sell for profit.

      Reply
      1. hefner
        February 21, 2021

        Indeed, but by not being on Facebook, Twitter et al., one is not bombarded by unwanted messages via family and friends ‘liking’ a particular comment or topic.
        My data might have been collated from gmail, Outlook, Yahoo or … for their ‘research’ but comes next GE or referendum I am less likely to get ‘personalised’ messaging trying to move my vote.
        Isn’t that something worth having even if I am deprived from Facebook and Twitter’s wisdom?

        Reply
    3. Andy
      February 21, 2021

      The news bulletins on Talk Radio are the only bits that aren’t opinionated. The rest is far right nonsense.

      Reply
      1. acorn
        February 21, 2021

        We will shortly have two more channels, News UK TV and GB News. Both will be trying to emulate US Fox News. Murdoch’s Talk Radio, Times Radio and his News UK TV, along with GB News, will all be pushing to get Ofcom’s impartiality code watered down. And, if Boris makes Paul Dacre head of Ofcom …?

        Reply
  20. Everhopeful
    February 21, 2021

    On Wednesday 29th April Simon Jenkins wrote and excellent article in The Guardian about the swine flu. ( Which according to a well known govt advisor was going to kill 65,000 of us. Actual death toll was 457).
    In 2017 the uk govt was forced to pay compensation for claims against the jab which had been swiftly rolled out.
    The article is an example of excellent, sensible and protective journalism, based on researched fact, not dogma.
    The sort of discussion that is now all but illegal.

    Reply
  21. Nivek
    February 21, 2021

    “The BBC makes use of highly selected experts, many of whom seem to share a clear one sided political viewpoint about the importance of powerful global government as the answer to their view of what the problems are.”

    This is precisely my impression of what the Conservative Party’s leadership does.

    Reply
    1. Caterpillar
      February 21, 2021

      +1

      Reply
    2. Lifelogic
      February 21, 2021

      Indeed their “experts” are almost always always climate alarmists, remainers (now remoaners) and magic money tree economists. Programmes like QT and Any Questions have at best one, sound & slightly right of centre person on (often they have non). Not helped by the fact that most Tory MPs are Socialist or Libdim at best.
      Why does the BBC support unquestioningly the dire, state monopoly, NHS? Imaging the coverage they would now be giving a private health care system had it infected and killed as many as the dreadful NHS has done. Infecting people who went in for something else then dumping them into care homes to infect other and to die elsewhere.

      Reply
    3. a-tracy
      February 21, 2021

      And what do you read and watch each day to give you that impression Nivek?

      Reply
  22. Walt
    February 21, 2021

    The internet was to be and should be freely available for all in the world to disseminate and use information.
    Australia told Facebook that they must pay if their webpages include extracts from Australian newspapers. So Facebook complied by switching off that part of their service to Australian users of their website. Well done! Could an Australian media mogul be behind the Australian government’s actions, someone who wants to entrench power and secure another revenue stream?

    I will pay for good journalism and I can choose which newspaper’s print or digital offering to buy or support by donation. The law does not require me to buy from one or any. So why does the law require me to pay for bad TV journalism and biased broadcasting, which is what the BBC churns out? Remove the obligation to buy a TV licence and, if the BBC produces high quality unbiased content, I and others may buy it. If it doesn’t, we won’t and it can deservedly perish.

    Reply
    1. formula57
      February 21, 2021

      + 1

      Reply
  23. Mike Durrans
    February 21, 2021

    I rarely agree with EVERY word but today I would have to say that you have hit the nail fair square on the head and I hope it drives home the feelings I believe, that most of the population feel about MSM , DESPAIR! They try to take us for fools.

    Reply
  24. J Bush
    February 21, 2021

    I gave up watching TV when the BBC and Channel 4 started their move to partiality and ‘wokishness’. Even the ITV was showing traits of going in the same direction. That was about 15 years ago and I notified the TV tax people accordingly. Back then their response was, they had the right to enter my premises to check! I responded that no they didn’t and referred them to the relevant law, they backed off.

    Since then I use numerous online sites for information, usually more than one for verification of accuracy. The news is also far superior and doesn’t have supercilious presenters.

    The TV tax needs to end. If they are as popular as they claim, why are pleading for the compulsory tax to continue? Surely if there as many wokes and sjws, as they claim, their subscriptions will cover the cost? That goes for the other terrestrial TV networks that get some of this tax.

    That aside, I do have 3 questions:
    1. Why is the BBC supplying a ‘World service’, when it is only the people who live in Britain who have to pay this tax?
    2. Is the BBC still getting funding from the EU?
    3. Excluding Joe Public, who else is funding the BBC?

    Reply
    1. Dennis
      February 21, 2021

      Point 1. -perhaps it can be considered as part of overseas aid, an export in flying the flag etc.

      Reply
      1. J Bush
        February 21, 2021

        I understand where you are coming from. However,the end of the day, Given I and others don’t even watch it, why should we, via indirect taxation, fund the BBC so others in another country can watch for free?

        Reply
    2. hefner
      February 21, 2021

      If you want to learn a few (more) things about the BBC:
      Look at Wikipedia ‘BBC World Service’.
      Look at ‘Reality Check: Does the BBC get European Union funding?’ (28/07/2019).
      Look at ‘Licence fee and funding: About the BBC’.

      Now the annual £157.50 (£13.12 per month for 20/21) are distributed as such (£12.88 per month, 2019/20 figures):
      Television: £6.83
      Radio:……….£2.22
      BBC World Service: £1.24
      Other services & production costs: £0.88
      BBC Online .£1.24
      Licence fee collection & pension deficit cost: £0.47

      To put things into perspective here are some monthly subscriptions: Netflix £5.99-£13.99, Netflix&Sky £25.00, Virgin from £33.99 (incl. broadband).

      At a time where there is a call for ‘Global Britain’ I cannot help but find strange people questioning a service broadcasting in more than 40 languages and providing news and programs reflecting a British viewpoint to people over practically the whole globe.

      Reply
      1. J Bush
        February 21, 2021

        The BBC provides a service in 40 languages, which only those living in Britain are expected to fund. It doesn’t matter how much it is, the principle is do we have a choice? No, we do not. That is what is wrong.

        Are Russia, India, China or any other country doing this? Of course they are not, why would they? By that same token why should the British taxpayer fund this? Let those who want this, fund it, not force on those who don’t.

        And please do not use the argument, because they are not 1st world economies. They all have space projects, which the UK cannot afford. Partly because they along with other idiotic western countries have decided to destroy their economies for a virus with a 99% survival rate.

        And we are supposed to be a democracy!

        Reply
        1. hefner
          February 21, 2021

          Xinhua is the Chinese BBC equivalent, Tass and RT (Russia Today) are there for Russia, France has France24. I do not think their citizens pay the equivalent of the BBC licence fee, but I would be very surprised if part of the taxes that people in these countries pay were not used to finance these national efforts.
          I wonder what you think about the £37bn of UK taxpayers’money going to the UK military, part of which is used for programs of (dis?)information in various countries.

          Reply
      2. Peter2
        February 21, 2021

        All except the BBC are contracts freely entered into by customers.
        With BBC you have no choice if you wish to watch live TV
        The relative value for money is of no relevance.

        Reply
        1. MiC
          February 23, 2021

          Other countries finance their PSBs by normal taxation.

          The UK does it with a Poll Tax.

          The Tories like poll taxes.

          We have loads of them – the franchises levied on privateers are paid by the customers non-progressively.

          CT is, in essence, still a poll tax.

          Reply
      3. Mike Wilson
        February 22, 2021

        They send you to prison if you pay to watch anything on Netflix that is live if you don’t pay the BBC first.

        Reply
        1. MiC
          February 23, 2021

          Do you think that such prisoners should be allowed to vote?

          I thought that the Right said “no” with no exceptions?

          Reply
    3. a-tracy
      February 21, 2021

      4. Are the BBC tv shows/series available in all the other Countries in the World as a Netflix style purchase option to help to relieve the burden of payment support on retired people in the UK?

      Reply
  25. J Bush
    February 21, 2021

    I gave up watching TV when the BBC and Channel 4 started their move to partiality and ‘wokishness’. Even the ITV was showing traits of going in the same direction. That was about 15 years ago and I notified the TV tax people accordingly. Back then their response was, they had the right to enter my premises to check! I responded that no they didn’t and referred them to the relevant law, they backed off.

    Since then I use numerous online sites for information, usually more than one for verification of accuracy. The news is also far superior and doesn’t have supercilious presenters.

    The TV tax needs to end. If they are as popular as they claim, why plead for the compulsory tax to continue? Surely if there as many wokes and sjws, as they claim, their subscriptions will cover the cost? That goes for the other terrestrial TV networks that get some of this tax.

    That aside, I do have 3 questions:
    1. Why is the BBC supplying a ‘World service’, when it is only the people who live in Britain who have to pay this tax?
    2. Is the BBC still getting funding from the EU?
    3. Excluding Joe Public, who else is funding the BBC?

    Reply
  26. Kenneth
    February 21, 2021

    There is a gap in the market for unfettered facts. When I see news story I also like to drill down to the source. Often this bears little resemblance to the propaganda of the news story that led me there.

    The BBC has been in a perfect position to fill that gap in the market, sack the so-called correspondents and drop the “talking heads” and provide us with facts.

    Unfortunately the BBC has failed and has no credibility and no trust to perform this function.

    I am hopeful that Andrew Neill will do a better job.

    Reply
  27. jerry
    February 21, 2021

    I find myself siding with Facebook, and I say that as someone who fiercely dislikes Facebook. The Australian govt appear to be have got themselves into a similar predicament as successive UK govt had, prior to the NotW phone hacking scandal.

    Reply
    1. jerry
      February 21, 2021

      As for the state of the BBC and the UK broadcast sector, I’m just as critical of the commercial broadcasters (and that includes many subscription channels), perhaps more so, because I have to pay for their nonsense but have little choice about it in the real world – if I was to stop paying the TVL fee, put a hammer through the TV set, my funding of the commercial broadcasters goes on! In the 1960s and ’70s it was said of ITV, when in 1954 parliament gave the go ahead for commercial TV in the UK they gave the ITV companies a licence to print their own money!

      As for the BBC not complying with its charter, I agree, but that is the fault of Govt, they in effect appoint the Boards Chairman and by way the DG etc, Govts make many of the rules the BBC have to comply with, which through the years have done so much to dumb down the Corporation. Some of us remember the events at the BBC in early 1987, even if some wish us to forget, and things got far worse from the early 1990s, for the BBC (and ITV/Ch4)…

      Reply
      1. jerry
        February 21, 2021

        When a debate about censorship is its self censored, or appears to be, it becomes most troubling. 😥

        Reply
  28. Bryan Harris
    February 21, 2021

    I sometimes wish I could be as succinct, effective yet diplomatic in the comments I make ….. This is a great article that does it’s job very well.
    Sometimes I just do not have the patience having suffered so much from whatever it is I attack.

    We know the BBC is a disgrace and leads where others follow on, but probably the worst aspect of the BBC in terms of delivering news is that they tell us what to think by repetition or PR’ing something — They do not deliver news ‘exactly as it happened’, they append their viewpoint to it.

    When are we going to see some real parliamentary effort against this expensive wastrel?

    Reply
    1. Jim Whitehead
      February 21, 2021

      +1, and thank you for being pithy, succinct and effective, and satisfactorily diplomatic too.

      Reply
      1. Bryan Harris
        February 22, 2021

        ++

        Reply
  29. Peter
    February 21, 2021

    ‘I am particularly critical of the BBC because I have to pay for it whether I want to use it or not.’

    That is not strictly true. If you don’t want BBC TV or iPlayer and are prepared to forego live broadcasting on other channels you don’t need a TV licence. You can easily watch most non BBC TV for free on catch up services. Some BBC content is also available free on services like Netflix.

    Radio is free. Though after you ditch BBC TV you may find that BBC radio also has limited appeal.

    Reply
    1. Frances Truscott
      February 21, 2021

      I know of people who suffered visits from bailiffs because the BBC did not believe they chose not to have a television. So it is just not true that its easy to escape the BBC tax.

      Reply
      1. Ian Wragg
        February 21, 2021

        They need a warrant to enter your property.
        We had a visit from Capita demanding entry into the house, I asked for their warrant and they left.

        Reply
      2. London Nick
        February 21, 2021

        I don’t believe this. Unless the BBC can provide evidence to a court that you are using a television without a licence they cannot take any action – such as fining you or sending bailiffs. And if you refuse to talk to any TV licence inspector or allow them into the house, and simply shut the door on them, they will be unable to obtain the necessary evidence. Simple.

        Reply
      3. Fred.H
        February 21, 2021

        bailiffs or indoctrination force?

        Reply
      4. Peter
        February 21, 2021

        Inform the BBC licensing administration that you will no longer be watching TV and therefore will not be paying the licence fee. They will then usually respond to acknowledge this. They also state that they will enquire again in two years to see if you will continue without live broadcasting/iPlayer.

        Bailiffs can be ignored. They need a warrant to enter your property anyway. They cannot just turn up and gain entry without it.

        Continuing TV licence funds are helped by people who fear the consequences of not paying. However, most of the public are now wise to the reality.

        Reply
        1. hefner
          February 21, 2021

          +1.
          I also very much doubt the bailiff story as the present generation of TVs with flat screen practically produces the same low signal as a computer screen, and as such would be difficult to be identified (as in the good olden days of the cathode ray tube) by its exact wavelength as originating from a ‘BBC program’. I suspect the BBC is obviously keen on maintaining the TV detector van urban myth.

          Reply
      5. Mike Wilson
        February 22, 2021

        How do you become so ill informed. You do NOT need a TV licence to own or use a TV. You only need a licence to watch LIVE broadcasts and iPlayer.

        I have a TV. I have subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon. I only watch streamed content. I do not need a TV licence. When I decided not to renew my licence I told the licensing mob by filling out a form on their web site. I received an acknowledgement letter. I haven’t heard a word from them since.

        Reply
    2. hefner
      February 21, 2021

      +1
      The people complaining about the BBC are usually not so vocal about the fixed charges added to their electricity, gas, water bills independently to their actual consumption (assumed to be for ‘distribution network improvements’) or similarly about their Vehicle (road) Tax (to improve the road and motorway network … ah the smart motorways …).

      And apart from LL, nobody here seems to be particularly incensed by the credit card fees or the banking charges.

      Reply
      1. Mike Wilson
        February 22, 2021

        The standing charge is to maintain the network. Seems fair enough to me.

        Reply
  30. turboterrier
    February 21, 2021

    Brilliant post Sir John bang on the money.
    How many more warnings and complaints from the masses before they actually listen and operate within the mandate of their charter.
    They all may get a big wake up call if and when Andrew Neill’s new station hits the airways.
    I personally would like the BBC news and current affairs programme sold off as it is a drain on their budgets. Too many self opinionated reporters and editors who do nothing to add value to the debates, except draw obscene wages

    Reply
    1. Fedupsoutherner
      February 21, 2021

      Turbo, I’m with you on Andrew Neil

      Reply
  31. Richard1
    February 21, 2021

    I consume a fraction of the BBC output I used to. The only decent political discussion programme now is Andrew Neil’s 60 minutes on you tube. I do watch Marr on fast forward so as not to have to sit through interviews eg with Ed davey. I’ve pretty much given up with R4 Inc the Today programme. The bias takes the form of topic selection, choice of ‘experts’ and level of aggression shown to interviewees depending on whether or not they are in line with BBC-think. Some experts – for example those of a more sceptical hue on global warming or Covid lockdown – no longer appear at all as far as I can tell.

    Let’s hope GB News when it launches marks a return to proper, interesting, broadcast journalism.

    Reply
  32. ukretired123
    February 21, 2021

    The state of journalism in this country is pitiful compared with years ago. It is dumbed down and blinkered so much with metropolitan wokeness and cronies that I look elsewhere. After the EU clangers of late it is refreshing to hear even German and French news reporting more reality than the BBC apart from Outside Source Ros Atkins who obviously couldn’t stand the hypocrisy and have a rant on vaccines recently.
    The GB News is long overdue. Also Nick Clegg joining Facebook ….
    The Australians are right to challenge big tech as the are becoming too powerful monopolies.

    Reply
  33. alastair harris
    February 21, 2021

    I was with you until you mentioned the BBC. I pay the licence fee because my lad likes watching live Formula 1 and Live football, both on Sky through a day pass. There is no other reason. £157.50 a year so my son can fill up the Sky coffers. To be fair I used to listen to the Today program on radio 4, although I don’t need a licence for that. But actually I gave up because of the effect on my blood pressure! It always used to wear its left leaning credentials on its sleeve, but at least the presenters were worth listening to then.
    But actually you did get me thinking, about politics and scope creep. What I find somewhat interesting is how politicians seem to think the answer to all of life’s problems is more politics. I don’t have any time for “wokery” (is that a word?), but I do think people should be forced to attend lessons on less is more, before they are allowed anywhere near being an election candidate.

    Reply
    1. hefner
      February 21, 2021

      Do I understand you correctly? Asking for ‘less is more’ from (future) politicians? Good luck with that!

      Reply
  34. Alan Jutson
    February 21, 2021

    Will be interesting to see if Andrew Neils proposed new News Station will be any better ?

    I shall certainly give it a go, as I am fed up with so called experts who simply guess the future, and criticise the past with the benefit of hindsight.

    Reply
  35. Christine
    February 21, 2021

    Many newspaper articles on social media only allow the reader to see the first paragraph unless a subscription is paid. This to me is no more than an advert for them. Making social media pay for this access would be extremely difficult to police. We have made it a rule in our house to never have any news programmes on TV or radio as they are so depressing and bias. I resent having to pay a telly tax that only applies to viewers here in the UK when the BBC is freely available to those living in the rest of Europe. Scrap the license fee. Journalism in the UK has become little more than political propaganda. We are becoming more like a controlled communist state every day. Give us our freedom back and allow freedom of speech and diversity of opinion to return. I’m getting tired of Government constantly interfering in our lives.

    Reply
    1. a-tracy
      February 21, 2021

      The BBC isn’t freely available in the Eu is it? That can’t be right are you talking about just the Worldservice.

      Reply
      1. Christine
        February 21, 2021

        I know many people who live in Spain and they all receive the BBC and don’t pay a penny for it. It may not be legal but nobody puts a stop to it. The BBC don’t seem to care as long as us mugs in the UK keep filling their coffers. They should make it a subscription service.

        Reply
        1. Fedupsoutherner
          February 21, 2021

          Correct Christine. We lived there for 5 years and watched the BBC for nothing and so did everyone we knew.

          Reply
  36. ian@Barkham
    February 21, 2021

    There are a number of problems with what we call social media and search resources generally. These problem primarily stem from their business model. Then add in their contradictory view of their own position

    It all leads to a big cost, a massive cost to all those and associates of those that use these facilities. First and foremost anyone using the internet is seen as their commodity to farm and profit from. To some that may not seem an issue, but it is an issue in that it is using an individuals data to also farm their friends, acquaintances and family without consent. In essence they are not creating a free and mutual service they are gathering and garnering information, personal and private for their own profit. They sell your data.

    One of the big outlets has very friendly terms and conditions that seem all innocent even if you read all 30 plus pages, then as you delve deeper they state by using their facilities, they have un named associates and partners that they facilitate to also get to gather your personal and private data.

    The issue here is not just the farming of and enslaving of humans for profit but facilitating obscure unknown parties( could be foreign security services) with the same information.

    The whole point of Tim Berners-Lee opening up the system to the World was so it would be ‘free’ to all – that is now not available to anyone. Humans are now the ‘farmed’ commodity for profit by big cooperation’s.

    The Editorial content that is in contention is also contradictory, it is ‘click bait’ for profit by those that provide the link or do those that supply the content also get to profit.

    The Internet and its Social Media side was seen as avenues of ‘free-speech’ that is no long the case, social media hubs now edit content so it falls into line with their mode of thinking. As such Social Media is no longer an outlet for thoughts and views no matter how abhorrent but a publishing platform guided by their own editorial principles as such they have the same responsibility and liability as the printed press – they cant have it both ways.

    As Boris Johnson once wrote(and I paraphrase) he would sooner the though of the evil minded were out in the open so they can be countered, rather than driving them under ground. You could say that is the essence of ‘free speech’, that has been followed up recently by a Judge in the UK Courts in saying it is OK to dislike someone.

    Reply
  37. glen cullen
    February 21, 2021

    I agree with your approach and general assessment

    The reporting of ‘Opinion’ or ‘News’ is a grey area in this day and age of journalism

    The BBC could be forced to highlight the difference in to top corner of the screen – a bit like the old days when they would state if a programme was a repeat

    Reply
    1. matthu
      February 21, 2021

      That’s hardly going to work. They’ve barely got the idea that they can’t go about introducing a labour activist as a medical expert.

      Reply
      1. glen cullen
        February 21, 2021

        too true

        Reply
      2. steve
        February 21, 2021

        matthu

        V. True.

        Reply
  38. ian@Barkham
    February 21, 2021

    Sir john there is irony in his – by coming on your blog this morning my data is collected by 5 sources outside of your control.

    Reply
    1. Dennis
      February 21, 2021

      ‘.. when the BBC is freely available to those living in the rest of Europe. ‘ All of the BBC? Without subscription? Is this a new thing? Very nice if correct – please advise.

      Reply
      1. Fedupsoutherner
        February 21, 2021

        Dennis. What people do us get a Sky box and a Free view card and then get all BBC channels

        Reply
    2. hefner
      February 21, 2021

      Ian, +1
      Dennis, well yes and no: watchallchannels.com allows watching most UK TV from abroad but that requires a fee-paying VPN connection, so not free.

      Reply
  39. Mark
    February 21, 2021

    Fully agree with the sentiments.

    The current BBC R4 serialisation of the Bill Gates book is an especially egregious piece of propaganda.

    Reply
  40. ian@Barkham
    February 21, 2021

    All to often the MsM is not reporting ‘news’ not informing as part of a ‘free press’ but are simply setting out to bait the viewer/reader so as to expose them to their advertisers. That’s exactly what the Social Media is doing but on a different level, they farm an individuals data to sell – that cant be right when it is done in such an underhanded way.

    The best ‘freedom’ is going back to the original concept a ‘free’ way for the world to communicate.

    That doesn’t stop content providers displaying adverts to pay for the facility, but click bait to farm data should be banned. Especially as no one knows were this data is going.

    Reply
  41. BW
    February 21, 2021

    I am looking forward to Andrew Neil’s News GB channel. I haven’t been able to watch the BBC news since we voted to leave the EU because of its biased anti British, anti Brexit, pro Europe, let’s find bad news from anywhere, reporting. It is disgusting that I have to pay for it. Don’t get me started on that self opinionated overpaid Lineker.

    Reply
  42. Roy Grainger
    February 21, 2021

    One odd thing about the BBC is their absolutely obsessive interest in the USA and their total lack of interest in Europe. So we have had blanket coverage of the last two USA election campaigns including the primaries nominating the candidates but virtually no coverage at all (for example) of the elections to nominate Merkel’s successor as CDU leader and her replacement as Chancelleor (not necessarily the same person).

    One frequent claim from the Remainers was that our future lies with Europe and in leaving the EU we would becaome a mere colony of the USA. It is ironic that the BBC has been in that exact position for the past decade.

    Reply
  43. Caterpillar
    February 21, 2021

    1/3. A recent England example of failed journalism – Covid – of course.
    England is currently in one of three possible situations, either,
    A) Nearing herd immunity (assuming all Covid deaths are Covid deaths and that infection fatality ratio is reasonably consistent with estimates). In which case journalists might question the cost-benefit of the push to the low vulnerable of ‘vaccines’ of unknown long term effect, and unknown effect on viral evolution.
    B) Not nearing herd immunity if England’s infection fatality ratio is considerably higher than other countries. In which case journalists would be asking why? Is it the dry-tinder effect, is it low metabolic health, is it late care, is it ignoring treatments, is it insufficient support/labour for care homes (anti-GBD)?
    C) Not nearing herd immunity as England has misidentified Covid deaths, but excess deaths have increased for other reasons. In which case journalists might question why people are dying and how it relates to the response?
    I would have hoped investigative journalists would be all over this. I cannot conceive of a reason why they are not.

    Reply
    1. Stred
      February 22, 2021

      It’s because none dare criticise our fantastic NHS and the majority of readers are still following the national religion.

      Reply
  44. Caterpillar
    February 21, 2021

    3/3. Another failure of journalism might be due to a diminishing/changing of intrinsic reward. I guess that in decades gone by intrinsic reward would have flowed from uncovering the truth, this no longer seems to be the case. Intrinsic reward in journalism now seems to flow from winning for one’s political team or individual fame (which might link to extrinsic reward). This failure is not only in journalism. Although I am perturbed (since randomness does not lead to homogeneity) by the years of diversity auditing (counting ethnicity, gender, sexual persuasion, religion), I wonder whether all university departments should be subjected to political diversity auditing, this may then feed through to all careers.

    Reply
  45. a-tracy
    February 21, 2021

    I actually prefer to read the Guardian and the FT at least each day’s page isn’t just full of Megan and Harry like the Express (who is actually interested in that?), boobs and ass in the Daily Mail worse than anything page 3 used to dish up every day, very little interesting unique articles. The BBC is just biased, don’t tell you who they are interviewing i.e. Union Reps, Communists, just can’t watch anymore as with C4 News I used to religiously watch at 7pm not watched for ages now. Don’t do facebook, twitter is now a left wing takeover full of their own views and wanting to cancel anyone that doesn’t agree with them. They are taking us for fools.

    Reply
    1. Fred.H
      February 21, 2021

      is the Daily Fail worse than the famed Page 3? – – – I should start reading it – for the pictures -!!

      Reply
  46. The Prangwizard
    February 21, 2021

    To this excellent analysis I would bring in the manipulation of weather reports and forecasting driven of course by the climate change agenda and the politicisation of meteorologists.

    One example in recent years has seen the naming of storms. These were once just periods of bad weather. They were troublesome in parts and to some groups of the population of course.

    But now in an attempt to distort perceptions they are described as extreme events; they are named to link them with the severe weather sometimes experienced in other parts of the world.

    We have been spared such as these ourselves but we are being deceived by this reporting into thinking that a change in climate is taking place which of course it is not. News reporting picks up on this and provides amplification and sensation.

    Reply
    1. Fred.H
      February 21, 2021

      most weather prediction reporting comes as extreme possibilities – due to poor science that got them caught with trousers down.

      Reply
    2. Fedupsoutherner
      February 21, 2021

      Quite right Prang wizard. It doesn’t matter what the weather does now it’s global warming and not normal. Like snow isn’t normal in the winter? They’re having a laugh.

      Reply
      1. DavidJ
        February 22, 2021

        +1

        Reply
    3. Jim Whitehead
      February 21, 2021

      +1, a good post regarding the sensationalism which pours from the ever girning news readers.

      Reply
    4. DavidJ
      February 22, 2021

      Indeed it is the climate change agenda that is our greatest enemy not the climate itself. Real pollution is an different matter altogether.

      Reply
  47. Glenn Vaughan
    February 21, 2021

    Social media is a social menace! Abuse, body-shaming, trolling, bullying, consequent suicides.
    UGH!

    Reply
    1. a-tracy
      February 21, 2021

      But Glenn some of the newspapers are like that too now, they have mirrored the social media shock jock style, in fact lots of the articles I’ve already read on twitter.

      Reply
      1. Glenn Vaughan
        February 21, 2021

        I don’t read newspapers. I prefer classic fiction to modern fiction.

        Reply
  48. Andy
    February 21, 2021

    Those who dismiss mainstream news organisations, like the BBC, and instead rely on unsourced nonsense shared on Facebook and Twitter represent the biggest threat to democracy since WW2.

    They must be stopped.

    Reply
    1. Fred.H
      February 21, 2021

      I agree the BBC must be stopped – mostly opinionated wild nonsense reported as fact.

      Reply
      1. glen cullen
        February 21, 2021

        BBC 9:20am – plane engine debris falls in Denver
        BBC 10:00am – jet engine falls in residential area of Denver
        BBC 10:30am – jet plane on fire with debris falling on residential homes Denver
        Red Button – Boeing jet scattered debris over a residential area near Denver

        me- In reality a boeing 777 had an engine failure during take-off and landed later with no injuries safely

        Reply
        1. Fred.H
          February 21, 2021

          spoiler warning – – -glen ridicules BBC news flashes……. it seemed like a good story, and the last update appears somewhere near fact.

          Reply
        2. hefner
          February 21, 2021

          Well, it is fortunate that the 2.5 m circular piece of metal likely to weigh a bitty more than 1 oz did not land on anybody’s head, isn’t it.

          Reply
    2. No Longer Anonymous
      February 21, 2021

      The agenda setting BBC is the biggest threat to democracy in this country. As for the biggest threat to democracy since WW2 ? That’s the CCP, obviously !

      Reply
    3. steve
      February 21, 2021

      Andy

      If people believe what is on Facebook and Twitter then that says more about their stupidity, quite frankly.

      Reply
  49. Iain Gill
    February 21, 2021

    We dont have proper free speech in the UK, and we should, that should be a clear reform.

    We have too much media that is sponsored by the state.

    We have too much of a cosy self selecting narrow view of the world elite in journalism which actively keeps out many decent mainstream views.

    But yes good journalists are worth their weight in gold.

    As for facebook, its transitory, it has no IP of its own, its just a framework to hang things on, and can easily be replaced.

    Reply
    1. hefner
      February 21, 2021

      Facebook……………………… revenue ….. income
      year ending 31/12/2020: $85.9bn…… $29.1bn
      …………………..31/12/2019: $70.7bn……. $18.5bn
      …………………..31/12/2018: $55.8bn……. $22.1bn
      It is obviously ‘transitory’ and ‘can easily be replaced’.
      Please send your ideas on how to do just that on a … confetto.

      Reply
    2. steve
      February 21, 2021

      Iain Gill

      “We dont have proper free speech in the UK, and we should”

      We do Iain, it is an enshrined right. The lives this country sacrificed to protect our freedoms from tyranny guarantees that right.

      That right is under attack, but we must defend it.

      Personally I don’t do political correctness, and no one tells me what I can and can’t say in my own country. I’m a firm believer of ‘when in Rome’….which means when I go to someone else’s country I respect their traditions, laws and customs.

      I refuse to sell my rights down the river to accomodate people, or maligned foreign political influence coming here and demanding I alter my way of life when I am a sovereign subject of my own country.

      Reply
      1. Fedupsoutherner
        February 21, 2021

        +1

        Reply
      2. DavidJ
        February 22, 2021

        Indeed.

        Reply
      3. Iain Gill
        February 22, 2021

        no too many compromise agreements when whistle blowers leave firms including the NHS, too many liable laws preventing people exposing people like Robert Maxwell in their lifetime, too many super injunctions, and so on

        Reply
  50. Pieter C
    February 21, 2021

    The BBC is in breach of its Charter (requiring impartiality) most of the time. As you have done, I stopped watching BBC news and current affairs programmes some time ago. The BBC “takes a position” on many issues, such as politics, the EU and climate change and promotes it ruthlessly whilst denying a voice to contrary opinions. I am reminded of the Malcolm Muggeridge interview with Lord Reith, probably in the 1960’s: Reith was asked what would happen if the BBC “fell into the wrong hands”, his instant reply was that “it would be the greatest social evil of our time”. That is what has happened and action must be taken, starting with the abolition of the license fee and the strengthening OfCom’s oversight responsibilities.

    Reply
  51. formula57
    February 21, 2021

    There are very few journalists anymore for they have been replaced by infotainment industry operatives whose lack of understanding of what journalists do is a direct cause of many of the ills you identify. It is quintessential of a dumbed-down occupation.

    And I follow you in seeking out direct sources, thereby disintermediating the infotainment industry operatives and their myopic spin. (That is one reason why this diary is such a wonderful resource.)

    Although it is quite true “They regularly ignore the preoccupations of voters with issues like illegal migration, politically correct language, restrictions on freedoms , controls on our freedoms and high taxes on enterprise. They usually dislike or ignore England” so too often does the Government!

    Reply
  52. Lynn Atkinson
    February 21, 2021

    Pretty fair analysis, viewing habits were similar in our family and we have now switched the BBC off permanently. We are better informed as a result.

    Reply
    1. Fred.H
      February 21, 2021

      not lied to , rather than informed better?

      Reply
    2. steve
      February 21, 2021

      Lynn Atkinson

      “….switched the BBC off permanently. We are better informed as a result.”

      I don’t watch the BBC either. It’s very easy these days to get unbiased news elsewhere, in fact this site run by Sir John Redwood is far more informative than the BBC, it is also unbiased and costs us nothing.

      I might not have any control over Mr Redwood’s choice of topic, but the quality of writing and balance far exceeds anything the BBC puts out.

      Reply
      1. Fred.H
        February 21, 2021

        However Steve, lots of entries are indeed biased as they are mostly opinion, not facts.
        Some night wish to present as facts but in my opinion are not.

        Reply
  53. London Nick
    February 21, 2021

    I do not like Facebook, but being objective, on the Austrialian law question they are perfectly right to abolish the newspaper links. The newspapers were the ones who were gaining from the relationship, not Facebook. By publishing links to newspaper stories (they never published the full story) Faceboook was driving people to click on these and go to the newspaper website. So Facebook was providing advertising for the newspaper website, and, if anything, it is the newspapers who should have been paying Facebook!!

    The law was introduced simply to please the Murdoch press in Australia, and it is a sign of the strength of the mainstream media, not the internet companies. The fact that all the whinging is coming from the old, dead tree press proves that they are the ones who are losing out now they are no longer on Facebook. So if being on Facebook is so important to them, why should they also be paid for it? No, this is all pure media hypocrisy.

    Reply
  54. oldwulf
    February 21, 2021

    As a user of both Facebook and the BBC, I would be very, very happy to see them abolished.

    Reply
    1. Fedupsoutherner
      February 21, 2021

      I came off Facebook 6 months ago and don’t miss it at all. In fact I now realise what a time wasting exercise it is.

      Reply
      1. DavidJ
        February 22, 2021

        The number of hours wasted by many on it must be truly staggering. If only those hours could be used for useful purposes…

        Reply
  55. London Nick
    February 21, 2021

    At the last election we were clearly given to understand that Boris would decriminalise non-payment of the TV Licence Fee. Once again, we were lied to. Nevertheless, I believe that the risk of being fined for non payment is absolutely minimal, so if you don’t like the BBC’s far-left, anti-British politics, then don’t fund them. It’s very simple: do what you think is right and stand up for your beliefs.

    Reply
  56. anon
    February 21, 2021

    The monopoly should be ended where the “Public Good” or need can be supplied elsewhere commercially and at a similar or lower cost. Why did we privatise Gas,water,electricity,mail,telecoms?

    A public broadcaster regulator should be set up to contract by competitive tender public broadcast programs required to fill any gaps in the market provision.
    With factual evidence all referenced and available via the web then a clearly identified opinion area for debate on the same.

    A public broadcaster should not compete for talent . It should grow its own with a continuous throughput new presenters at a much lower cost. They are plenty of them , just give them a chance. It also reduces the probability of groupthink and cronyism.

    Reply
  57. Original Richard
    February 21, 2021

    There should be legislation to ensure the MSM, particularly the BBC because of its large market share and the way it is funded :

    1) Separate news from comment/analysis.

    2) When interviewing people for their views, analysis and experiences make it clear to the viewer/listener if these people are activists for any party or cause.

    3) Always inform the viewer how any particular organisation, research group, foundation, think tank etc whose reports they quote are funded.

    4) Allow diversity of views and when applicable, such the subject of energy, allow input from engineers and scientists working in the field.

    BTW I think it was wrong of the BBC’s Director General, Tim Davie, to call for BBC reporters and presenters to show more restraint and impartiality in their use of Twitter.

    As a viewer/listener I want to know a BBC reporter’s views so I can better judge their output.

    Reply
  58. Frances Truscott
    February 21, 2021

    Its not media sponsored by the State which is the worst. Its media owned by offshore proprietors which are the biggest problem although it is bad. They are amoral and thoroughly dislike this country.
    I have my war reporter Grandfathers articles. He did not write “down with our side”.
    The other day I had to turn off yet again. Some goat faced miserabilist was enumerating the debt the country is in.
    Doom doom and thrice doom. The absolute worst thing to do while people are still gritting their teeth in lockdown. How stupid are those people? Many media hacks often seem ask very stupid questions in a bullying manner . So the answer to my last question is they are very stupid indeed.

    Reply
  59. Ex-Tory
    February 21, 2021

    It amused me that the Australian government said it was “proposing” (not “threatening”) to impose this law, and that Facebook was “threatening” (not “proposing”) to react by withdrawing its news service.

    Reply
  60. Ex-Tory
    February 21, 2021

    When a well-known person says something which the BBC agrees with, there is a tendency for the fact that he or she has said it to be reported in its news bulletins as if it were important news. Similarly, when the BBC wants regulation or legislation about something, we hear as part of the BBC news, “we ask whether X, Y or Z should be legislated against/regulated.”

    Reply
  61. Paul Cuthbertson
    February 21, 2021

    News is not just what happens. It is what a fairly small group of people decide is the news. Look who owns ALL of the media.

    Reply
  62. beresford
    February 21, 2021

    Like many others, I wondered why the WEF should be so keen on making everyone take an experimental inoculation, but it seemed improbable that multiple labs (including Russian) acting independently would deliberately produce something that was harmful without the subterfuge becoming public knowledge. The news today that Tony Blair is pushing ‘vaccine passports’, and that Israel is apparently already using them to restrict the liberties of the public, implies that these ‘passports’ have been the game all along. From requiring everyone to carry a mobile phone which gives access to their medical records and allows them to be tracked by the authorities, it is but a short step to announcing that everyone must be microchipped instead because of ‘passport’ fraud. Not too hard to imagine Boris gravely intoning ‘Get chipped, protect the NHS, save lives’.

    Reply
    1. Norman
      February 21, 2021

      Interesting to see that, despite increasing censorship and deception, people are aware what’s going on and where its all headed. Proverbs 18:10.

      Reply
  63. Lindsay McDougall
    February 21, 2021

    If thy BBC offends thee, cut it off.

    Reply
  64. Pauline Baxter
    February 21, 2021

    Sir John, I totally agree with your diary for today 21/2/21, particularly what you say about the BBC.
    What you say about it’s portrayal of the ‘state debt’ is just one example of the BBC’s gross distortion of statistical information and their overall ‘lefty’ propaganda bias.
    The TV licence should be scrapped because unfortunately there is no way to change the BBC without turning it into a ‘State Broadcaster’ known to push the Government line whatever that might be in future.
    The licence fee is simply a tax on each household. That is the last thing Britain needs, going forward, into recovery from all the expenditure on Covid19.

    Reply
  65. steve
    February 21, 2021

    Glad to read your comments concerning the BBC, Mr Redwood.

    I would like to know why Boris Johnson has not yet abololished the licence fee as he said he would. Does the guy not have the guts even to do that ? What’s he scared of ?

    Almost the entire population would be in support of lecence fee abolition, so he’s got no excuse and should put his words into action.

    As an alternative the government could defund the BBC, reduce the licence fee to a fraction and use that revenue to operate a government – direct news channel. HMGovTV, or something along those lines. That way we could hear the government word directly and without bias.

    You correctly point out that the BBC fails to honour it’s charter. Well…one thing I have noticed since Blair corrupted the BBC is the fact that it’s staff cannot even spell correctly.

    Reply
  66. jon livesey
    February 21, 2021

    Once we recognize that the purpose of journalism is not to inform, but either to sell advertising, or to serve some political agenda, it becomes clear that there is nothing “privileged” about journalism. Journalists are just a subset of the class of writers who have no particular expertise in anything, and who use the Internet to generate an income by pretending to inform the rest of us. Journalists lack the skills to succeed in any particular profession, so they bluff us by writing as if they excel in all and can judge those who actually do have those skills.

    Reply
  67. Know-Dice
    February 21, 2021

    Surely this is a straight forward copyright issue?
    If Facebook etc. are infringing copyright on an article it’s up to the copyright holder to sue. This is a legal matter not a governmental issue

    Reply
    1. formula57
      February 21, 2021

      You could reasonably think so but no, the Australian news copyright holders actively wish Facebook to use their output, they just want to receive an easily obtained revenue stream.

      Facebook itself does not earn as a result of using that output (at least not directly) so has called their bluff by declining to make use – leading to much wailing by the copyright holders. Tough on them.

      As for Australian FB users, they can of course do what everyone else in Australia does and access the news sources outside of FB – so it is hardly the savage, fundamental attack on democracy and civilization as we know it that might be suggested.

      Reply
  68. DavidJ
    February 22, 2021

    I’m fed up of BBC propaganda and avoid their news and other “factual” programmes. It has become a tool of the globalists and factions of government that seek a truly Orwellian future for us. In particular I’m fed up with the climate change agenda, the basis of which has been disproved by proper scientists rather then those with herd mentality.

    Only de-funding it will bring about change or, if not acceptable to them, its demise.

    Reply
  69. David Brown
    February 22, 2021

    There is plenty of free news around on the net without buying printed news papers.
    My guess in a few years many news papers will disappear because a whole new generation are not buying them and I certainly don’t.
    The BBC ITV and sky have experienced journalists and broadly the news is balanced.
    I don’t like Political interference with journalistic independence and there is no excuse at all for Politicians of any party trying to sensor news however that censorship is dressed up.
    If any thing its the news papers that should be totally politically impartial, if Politicians want to seek to change the news content on TV then they should equally seek to change the bias written in news papers so all news inc papers is either free of Politics or at least totally neutral.

    Reply

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