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NOT ON THE BBC NEWS: #OCCUPYTHEBBC March Against Mainstream Media.

Goodbye to Old News

Goodbye to Old News

The BBC Trust is responsible for granting licenses to all BBC outlets and stations, managing value for money on license fee payments and ‘the direction of BBC editorial and creative output’. The Trust consists of 12 Trustees and is headed by Lord Patten.

Lord Chris Patten is a conservative peer and former governor of Hong Kong; he also happens to have 13 others jobs besides chief of the BBC. These include an £80,000 year role as an advisor for oil company BP, and £40,000 a year from EDF Energy. Some might well be surprised that the Chairman of the BBC Trust is receiving more pay from just these two advisory roles than the £110,000 a year he receives for his chairmanship of the BBC Trust.

Can we expect Lord Patten to have no conflict of interest in managing the ‘direction of BBC editorial output’ on matters such as Fracking, New Nuclear Energy and climate change when he is receiving more money from the energy industry than the media?[i]
The recently appointed Director of News and Current Affairs at the BBC, James Harding, is a former employee of the Murdoch Press. While Editor of The Times newspaper, he was responsible for exposing the identity of police blogger NightJack by hacking the bloggers email accounts – which his legal team then covered up during a court case against the action. Harding has also gone on the record as ‘pro Israel’. This is the figure responsible for hiring the news teams, presenters and journalists who will report on matters of hacking, privacy, and Middle East issues.

Raffi Berg, Editor of the BBC News Website, was outed for clenched teeth inducing behaviour in a report by Electronic Intifada. During the 2012 eight day assault by Israeli forces on the Gaza strip, in which hundreds of Palestinians were losing their lives, Berg was emailing journalists with ‘guidance’ to maintain a pro-Israel tone in their reports.

Now, it behoves us never to make simplistic links. However, if one were seeking an independent opinion on the Middle East, or energy policy, surely one would not rely on the opinion of paid employees of energy companies? Yet, this is what we are doing when we rely on the BBC as a news source.

And it doesn’t end there. The BBC has all but ceased to cover protests live, as they happen – and the limited coverage it does provide often fails to put the actions into any kind of context. This means viewers are either completely unaware that protest is happening – or they are not encouraged to think about and engage with the reasons behind the protest.

The UK is a sea of protest right now. The British people are not taking austerity lying down. But where are the media?
The students rose up in their tens of thousands in 2010, to defend their right to an education without incurring enormous debts through tuition fees. They were met with some of the most violent policing seen on UK streets in modern history. The Prime Minister dismissed these young people as a ‘feral mob’, the press joined in and public sentiment slavishly turned against the peaceful student protesters.

There have been several mass public sector strikes together with protest marches over the last three years. On the 30th November 2011,more than 2 million public sector workers went on strike. The strike closed more than three quarters of schools in England, as well as courts, museums, libraries and jobcentres. Physiotherapists, headteachers, librarians, lollipop ladies, refuse collectors, weather forecasters and scientists were among those involved as hundreds of thousands marched through the streets of the capital and their hometowns in protest.

Where was the BBC?
This summer has seen wave after wave of teachers’ strikes, as teaching staff make their opposition to Michael Gove’s assault on the education system. Nearly 3,500 schools shut just last month as part of these strikes.

Where was the BBC?
Fire Fighters have been striking up and down the country in a fight over reductions in staff and pension schemes.

Where was the BBC?
Universities up and down the land closed for 24 hours just days ago as thousands of staff from cleaners to lecturers joined a national strike over attacks on their pay, pensions and university funding.

Where was the BBC?

Disabled activist groups such as Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle and others have been mounting acts of civil disobedience in the face of social security cuts impoverishing sick and disabled people. They have chained their wheelchairs together to close busy London roads, they held the ’10,000 Cuts and Counting’ ceremony of remembrance outside parliament where they read out the names of the thousands of sick and disabled people that have died undergoing the government’s Atos ‘work capability assessments’.

Where was the BBC?
When the Arms Fair came to London it was met by organised and determined protest. Several activists are now facing prosecution, while the illegal arms manufacturers they demonstrated to oppose are free to sell illegal weapons on UK soil.

Where was the BBC?
Thousands of activists descended on Balcombe village, West Sussex to oppose the government’s plans to introduce hydraulic fracturing (Fracking) in the UK despite clear issues of environmental damage, water pollution and corruption.

Where was the BBC?
Protest, strikes and civil disobedience are an almost daily occurrence up and down the country constantly.
When mere tens of racist EDL protesters gather outside a pub chanting for closed borders – the BBC is there, and politicians are asked, repeatedly ‘so, what are you going to do about immigration?’. They appear on Newsnight, Question Time, the Today Programme, the Daily Politics, Channel 4 News, Sky News and ITN…they get asked the same question, over and over: ‘so what are you going to do about the immigration problem?’

The politicians can’t move without having to engage with the questions on immigration. This is why many people think we have an immigration problem – when we actually don’t.

While the media are busy misdirecting public attention to a fringe issue, they utterly neglect the biggest issue of our time.
On Nov 5th hundreds of thousands of people marched against political and economic corruption in a simultaneous, global protest across every inhabited continent…and where are the questions? Where is the pressure for the faces of the establishment to engage with these very real, very relevant issues?


Why is the BBC failing to reflect reality?
The BBC is led, and its editorial direction and content shaped, by people with financial and personal interests that conflict with the public interest to receive balanced news programming. This has become self-evident in its:
piecemeal and distorted coverage of opposition to austerity policies,
the failure to cover and explain protest,
the impacts of climate change,
the dangers of extreme energy practices such as fracking and tar sands –
andmatters of war and peace.
The viewer is not left educated and informed by this unbalanced reporting but misled by a corporatized BBC, promoting the vested interests of our immoral and corrupt political and corporate class. We need a public broadcaster with teeth, courage and integrity, and right now – we do not have one.

Kerry Anne Mendoza. @Scriptonite.

Occupy the BBC. BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London

Impromptu March to Downing Street.

Back to Portland Place.


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