Why is the Beeb buying the UN’s hysteria over ‘cyber violence against women’?

You might recall that way back in, er, October the United Nations published a report on Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls.

Two things happened. First much of the media regurgitated its claims without question, and then a few bloggers started pulling apart the report, which was replete with errors, phoney assertions and even a citation that linked to the author’s C Drive.

The whole saga was catalogued by the feminist writer Christina Hoff Sommers, who debunked the stats and slammed the “totalitarian” recommendations of the report.

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Photo suggests Tory government is considering Channel 4 privatisation

Channel 4 Building in London, September 2012 by Loz Pycock

The British government appears to be looking into privatising aspects of Channel 4, according to a policy document snapped by photographer Steve Back outside of Downing Street.

The document, shown below, was apparently being held by a nameless suit, and references a meeting with Matt Hancock, the minister for the Cabinet Office, the department of the prime minister.

The text reads:

“In your recent meeting with Matt Hancock you agreed that work should proceed [to] examine the options for extracting greater public value from the Channel 4 Corporation (C4C), focusing on privatisation options in particular, whilst protect[ing] its ability to deliver against its remit.

“This submission outlines the options we propose to explore, working with SheX [Shareholder Executive, government body that owns  Channel 4] and CO [Cabinet Office]. It is also set out next steps in pursuing that work [sic], including a recommendation you write to C4C reques[ing] that they open their books to ShEx to enable more meaning options anlays[is].”

Earlier this summer culture secretary John Whittingdale had said a sale of Channel 4 was not under discussion, though he did not rule it out.

A number of media groups had previously reported such a sale was due to take place, with the Financial Times claiming that a sale could raise £1bn for the British government.

In the past the coalition government had looked at such a sale, but the move was blocked by the Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable, who lost his Twickenham seat in the general election in May.

Back’s photo comes as the BBC’s Charter Review approaches at the end of 2016, with the Tories’ long-held contempt for the Beeb prompting many to worry the government could look to cripple the national broadcaster.

To this end Tony Hall, director general of the Beeb, is hoping to modernise the BBC for the Internet Age, whilst rejecting the Conservative view that he intends to expand the organisation’s remit.

Channel 4’s younger audience may put it at greater risk from streaming firms like Netflix, according to Enders Analysis, when compared to the BBC.

Image Credit – Channel 4 Building in London, September 2012 by Loz Pycock

BBC shames partially deaf MP by accusing him of dozing in Commons

BBC Leeds, September 2006 by Tim Loudon

The BBC was forced into embarrassing retreat after it retweeted a picture claiming that an MP was “resting his eyes” during a session in the Commons.

Alec Shelbrooke, Tory MP for Elmet and Rothwell, looked as though he might have been sleeping because of the angle of his body, prompting an image of him to be shared on social media by BBC Newsbeat.

Alec Shelbrooke apparently sleeping from BBC

Unfortunately for the Beeb it later emerged that Shelbrooke is partially deaf, and was placing his ear next to a speaker built into the Commons pews in order to hear what was being said. This prompted a swift apology.

This backtrack followed digging by ITV’s Paul Brand, who had rewound the video in question to capture an image of the Tory MP with his eyes open.

Image Credit – BBC Leeds, September 2006 by Tim Loudon

BBC radio presenter Stephen Nolan baits the shit out of migration sceptics

Shark attacks Stephen Nolan by James Cridland and Lwp Kommunikacio

Radio presenter Stephen Nolan led credence to accusations the Beeb is run by a “metropolitan liberal elite” over the first weekend of September in a succession of increasingly explosive phone calls to his show revealing the presenter’s bias on the migration crisis.

Controversy flared up over what one caller described as “emotional blackmail” towards those opposing programmes to take more refugees into Britain, with Nolan repeatedly bringing up the image of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler whose body was photographed after washing up on the shores of Turkey.

When one Nigel from Cambridge phoned up to question the wisdom of someone allowing an unknown refugee to move into their house it eventually led to Nolan asking if he was a “Christian man”, with Nigel saying he wasn’t.

“Are you charitable in any way?” Nolan continued. “You care about people in any way? In what way?”

The call continued in the vein with Nigel growing audibly upset, and Nolan asked what he made of the picture of Kurdi.

“There’s millions died in the war in Syria already,” Nigel argued, not unfairly. “Did you see the pictures of the dead there? There’s millions dying in Iraq. So why does one matter?”

Following that Jonathan from Swansea asked how they could be sure that refugees weren’t criminals or terrorists, with Nolan then asking whether the children on television looked like “Islamic extremists to you?”

This was labelled “emotional blackmail” by Jonathan, who said: “I’m sure I’m not the only one who is fed up of this 24-hour guilt trip by the media, by politicians who have the nerve to invite people into this country without the consent of the people.”

He added that Britain was just “numb to the propaganda now”, and that the country had taken in too many people over the last 20 years.

Nolan then went into full attack mode:

“When I say to you don’t you want children to be safe, it’s a pretty natural thing for me to do. Wherever they are in the world don’t you want to reach out a hand of friendship to kids that are in trouble, or do you just want to sit and look after yourself?”

David in Hull later asked Nolan for an apology for his treatment of Jonathan from Swansea, with Nolan refusing to apologise and criticising David for having phoned in rather than writing to the Beeb (so the matter could be quietly swept aside, one assumes).

Following the broadcast Breitbart’s editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam, formerly an aide to Ukip leader Nigel Farage, wrote an open letter challenging Nolan to a debate in the wake of the controversy.

Let the games begin.

Image Credit – Shark attacks Stephen Nolan by James Cridland and Lwp Kommunikacio, edits by the Right Dishonourable

Tony Hall plots reform of ‘Open BBC’ to silence corporation critics during Internet Age

BBC satellite in London, August 2004 by Peter Daniel

The director-generalship of the BBC has likely never been a relaxing job, but in the last few years the forces besetting the national broadcaster have scarcely been greater.

Mired by its failure to stop the assaults of rapist and DJ Jimmy Savile, controversy over its handling of the Scottish referendum and never-ending accusations from the Tories of its alleged bias against them, next year’s Charter Review to determine the Beeb’s future may be the most important in its history.

In a speech by Tony Hall at London’s Science Museum on Monday the director-general responded to many of the complaints against his organisation under a plan for an “Open BBC”, with many of the measures proposed capable of radically altering the British media landscape.

Going deeper online and into mobile

The last decade has seen increasing estrangement from traditional television schedules as consumers access more media from their computers and from mobile devices, with streaming services such as Netflix in California also challenging old models.

Seemingly in response to this, Hall spoke of how the BBC News service will change from a “rolling news to streaming news” tailored to individual users, in what would be an overhaul of the current apps and websites currently in use by the corporation.

“Inevitably, this will be a more video based service, complemented by audio, graphics and text live from BBC News,” Hall said. “It will be the place to go to find out the facts and to understand the story behind them.”

Bolstering World Service with ‘Ideas Service’

The global reach of the BBC’s World Service, according to Hall accessed by 500m, is perhaps the greatest example of British soft power still in existence – or a tool of propaganda depending on your stance.

Despite past cuts claimed by the Beeb to have undermined its ability to spread British values abroad, the director-general wants to push back into some countries, including the Middle East, former Soviet states and India, as well as establish an “Ideas Service” to spread British culture.

“The Service will host the best content from the BBC but also from some of our country’s leading cultural institutions,” Hall said. “From the British Museum to the Royal Shakespeare Company, from the Edinburgh Festivals to the Liverpool Biennial, from this amazing institution the Science Museum to the University of Manchester.”

Saving local public service journalism

Whilst no news groups (barring Private Eye, perhaps) have been unmoved by the digital age, local journalism has been ravaged, and the BBC much criticised for undermining regional news groups’ ability to compete commercially.

UK newspapers annual advertising revenues by Enders AnalysisSome dispute that the BBC’s regional output is to blame for the decline, but the Beeb has anyway committed to set aside funding to send 100 local journalists to courts, councils and public services, as well as making its audio and video available for use by local news groups.

“Local democracy really interests me,” Hall said. “I’ve seen for myself how important our local radio stations are, and I’m really proud of the way they serve their communities. But I now want us to go further.”

Addressing the Scottish question

The Beeb was pilloried by Scottish Nationalists over its handling of the referendum, with Glaswegian protestors calling for the now former political editor Nick Robinson to be sacked, and labelling the BBC the “British Biased Corporation”.

More recently Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon called for devolution of BBC Scotland, in line with many other powers being handed over to the parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh following the Nats failure to win that poll.

Whilst being thin on details, Hall said: “As the pace of devolution quickens we will need to adapt our services – on television, online and radio – to ensure that they fully reflect, and are able to report, the increasingly divergent politics of the UK.”

Defending shows people actually watch

Unlike much of the British media the BBC is obliged to cover topics for obscure or narrow audiences, Inuit throat singing being one of the stranger examples of programmes put out by the corporation.

Whilst some complain at this eccentricity, others (large broadcasters and news groups among them) think that the Beeb should stick exclusively to public service and oddities whilst leaving popular shows such as Strictly Come Dancing to the likes if ITV or Channel 4.

Though Hall defended “programmes of distinction”, he also said that “being a public service broadcaster also means understanding what the public wants us to provide – a broad, popular, mainstream offering that makes people feel their licence fee has been well spent.”

…but Hall says the Beeb is not ‘expansionist’

All the above might lead some to conclude that the BBC is, in the words of chancellor George Osborne, “imperial in its ambitions”. But Hall rejects this claim, and points out that he is still due to cut 20 percent from its costs base in savings.

“Let me be clear, an Open BBC is a million miles away from an expansionist BBC,” he said.

“Indeed it is the polar opposite. It comes from the desire to partner and share. It comes from the recognition that technology gives us the opportunity to do things very differently. It comes from the belief that the BBC must do even more for Britain as a whole.”

A full copy of Hall’s speech can be viewed here.

Image Credit – BBC satellite in London, August 2004 by Peter Daniel